Pew poll: Heavy majority thinks Congress, not Obama, should have final authority to approve Iran deal

A heavy majority, but maybe not heavy enough. If McConnell can’t muster more than 62 votes in the Senate to override an Obama veto of whatever Congress chooses passes. we’ll be stuck with this Iran sh*tburger until January 2017 at the earliest. And probably much longer than that, if we’re being honest.

Nice to see President Overreach get a rebuke in the polls, though. Which is different from expecting any sort of meaningful public backlash if he makes a deal over Congress’s objections.


At first glance that looks like a neatly consistent result. Americans favor giving their representatives the final say over momentous matters of war or diplomacy, just as the Constitution’s War and Treaty Clauses would have it. And of course the partisan numbers tend to reverse (but not uniformly) depending upon which party the president belongs to. In the case of the Iraq war, Republicans favored presidential authority while Democrats favored congressional authority; in the case of the Iran deal, the trends reverse. (Independents are pro-Congress across the board.) But do we have an apples-and-oranges problem with these questions? The first question deals with treaty power. The second deals with a simple authorization to use force. The third and fourth, however, refer not only to the decision to use force but the type of force to be used, a decision that traditionally belongs to the commander-in-chief. It’s hard to square Republican support for letting Bush decide whether to invade Iraq with not letting Clinton decide whether to invade Yugoslavia. But it’s also hard to square Democratic support for letting Congress decide whether to invade Iraq with not letting Congress decide whether a nuclear deal with Iran should have the force of law in the United States. The apparent principle, again, is that big-picture foreign policy developments should have the support of the legislature; the Iran deal, which touches on nuclear weapons and will shift the balance of power in the world’s most volatile region, is clearly big-picture. There’s a constitutional clause on point supporting Congress’s authority. What’s the argument for cutting them out of the picture on a hugely important matter of international diplomacy with a rising power but not on the lesser matter of bombing a few of Assad’s weapons depots in 2013?

On the broader question of whether we should be negotiating with Iran at all, the public says yes (49/40) even though they tilt overwhelmingly towards believing that Iran isn’t serious about addressing America’s concerns. A year and a half ago, Americans split 33/60 on whether Iran is serious or not; today they split 27/63. Why people would want to continue talking to an enemy whom they believe, consistently and in great numbers, isn’t dealing in good faith is a mystery to me. Maybe it goes to show that Americans think diplomacy is good in its own right, even if it’s likely to be ineffective. No harm in talking to people with whom you have differences (even as the nuclear clock ticks), right? There are some surprising splits on the “should we negotiate” question too:


Men, a traditionally Republican demographic, are 10 points more likely than the Democratic core constituency of women to say we should be negotiating? And young adults, a key part of Obama’s base, are less likely to say so than senior citizens, a key part of the GOP’s? Huh and double huh. I don’t know how to explain that.

Via AFP, here’s Bibi Netanyahu telling his cabinet that the terms of the Iran deal that we know about are even worse than Israel expected. Pew also asked Democrats and Republicans about him. GOPers split 47/16 in rating him more favorably than not; Democrats split … 19/39, a sharp drop from just a month ago when they split 28/35. Democratic sympathy for Israel and the Palestinians is now almost evenly matched, with 57 percent claiming sympathy with the former and 54 percent claiming sympathy with the latter. (Among Republicans, it’s 79 percent versus 33 percent.) Israel isn’t a fully partisan issue just yet but it’s on its way there. And as the rift between Obama and Netanyahu opens even wider after this Iran deal, it’ll get worse.

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