Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to talk about the Iran deal

Sar Shalom

I'll leave the task of describing why the Iran deal should be rejected to others. Instead, I'd like to bring up the reality that unless 12 Democrats in the Senate and 43 in the House join the effort to stop the deal, even assuming that all Republicans do so, the deal will take effect. This means that Congress' time to review the deal is not rally-the-base time, it is persuade time. That is, it is time to work on persuading the necessary Democrats in the House and Senate that it would be better to continue as is with the sanctions than to allow the deal to take effect.

Unfortunately, the bluster from the Republicans will not have any persuasive power. Anything that can be dismissed as knee-jerk opposition to a deal with our enemies will not have any persuasive power. Rallying a pro-Israel Democratic constituency could have the needed persuasive power, if there is a large enough group of them willing to make the required noise. However, it is unlikely to be enough. We need to understand the 12 most conservative Senate Democrats' terms for evaluating the Iran deal and then explain it within that framework in a way that would induce them to override a veto of Congress' rejection of it. It also would not hurt if the Republicans in Congress would offer some inducements, such as removing some element from the assault on Obama's domestic agenda, in order to get the needed handful of Democrats to support the override.

Update: The Jerusalem Post has an editorial making the same point with a few details added. Some particularly sage advice:
Second, the Israeli campaign against the deal must avoid personal attacks on the US president. Lobbying efforts must focus on the issues. Democrats will rally around their president if they perceive him to be the subject of baseless ad hominem accusations.


  1. I'm not sure it's relevant either way. Obama has not show himself to be a good loser. He has characteristically gone off and done what he wanted with or without congressional approval or support, legal sanction, rule of law, judicial review or the merest sense of right and wrong in a democracy.

    1. You mean like how he implemented a second round of stimulus unilaterally when Congress showed that it would not approve it?

      The reality is that an overridden veto would end the deal and there is nothing that Obama would be able to do to revive it. We're not living in the world of right-wing fantasies.

    2. Unlikely it would. Why? Because Obama is only one of six states and everyone else has already discarded all sanctions. Moreover, Congress doesn't actually have the authority to freeze or unfreeze these Iranian assets, nor can they alter or change the nature of the sanctions of which they have no part, because the sanctions that fall under Congressional review are not the totality of all sanctions in the US. Others, many others were tacked up by Executive fiat through Federal agencies.

      In either case it's all moot, Congress will run out the clock on their 60 days and cave. They always do. It's a pointless fight. Moreover the text of the agreement is certainly vague enough to avoid specific criticism. There's not much material in it that someone can point to for a line item veto. Treaties rarely do - they are full of sound and fury and sweet sounding unassailable platitudes.

  2. "an overridden veto"

    I hope that this can be achieved, but it strikes me as highly unlikely.

    I think that the Jewish people, from Netanyahu on down, have done their best to inform this president of the dangers of allowing an Iranian bomb, but the western-left does not care and nor does this president.

    1. It's really a done deal.
      Just saw Howard Fineman on Chris Matthews' show define Israeli opposition for this deal coming from the right wing Netanyahu government even though it actually comes from both sides. Ripping into Netanyahu is great fun on Hard Ball. He's the bogey man and "extreme," unlike the reasonable and moderate mullahs.

    2. All I know is that some of the Democrats in the Senate are expressing doubts. Whether there are enough of them with such doubts, or those doubts are enough to tip them towards override, is anyone's guess. As long as it's in the realm of possibility, we should pursue it.