White House to Senate Dems: If you oppose us on this terrible Iran deal, the GOP wins

Via Gabe Malor, an eleventh-hour pitch to Democrats from the Uniter-in-Chief to fight the real enemy, even if it means striking a bad bargain with Shiite fanatics who have hegemonic ambitions over the Middle East.

Obama 2004: There are no “red states” or “blue states,” just the United States. Obama 2015: If you want to be reelected in your purple state, you’d better play ball with this nuclear terrorist state.

As negotiations with Iran on a nuclear deal come down to the wire, the White House is ramping up a yearlong campaign to persuade lawmakers and the public to support an agreement.

In recent days, officials have tried to neutralize skeptical Democrats by arguing that opposing President Barack Obama would empower the new Republican majority, according to people familiar with the discussions.

How would it empower them going forward? Manchin, McCaskill, and the rest of the purple-state Dems who are up in 2018 know that the left will turn on them viciously for crushing Obama’s last best hope for a foreign-policy legacy. They’d spend the next three years trying to win liberals back by siding with Obama against the GOP on all but the toughest votes. Obama’s veto will still be there for the next 22 months; so will the filibuster, in all likelihood. The White House isn’t worried about Republicans being “empowered,” he’s worried about being humiliated by a de facto vote of no confidence in his foreign policy if McConnell can put together a veto-proof majority on Iran. You would think that he’d focus on that argument in wooing Senate Dems, i.e. “If I lose on this, it’ll make me look like an even bigger joke abroad, which could be dangerous.” In other words, he could argue that losing in Congress would empower, say, Vladimir Putin. Instead, he focuses on the GOP. That speaks volumes.

Here’s another fun bit from the same WSJ article. Noah will have more on this in an upcoming post but it’s too perfect an encapsulation of the current White House mindset on Iran not to flag it here as well:

White House officials have encouraged liberal groups to put U.S. lawmakers on the spot with the question: “Are you for solving this diplomatically or being forced…to war?” Ben Rhodes, one of Mr. Obama’s closest foreign-policy advisers, used those words at a January 2014 meeting with dozens of representatives from liberal political organizations, according to a transcript reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Usually when Obama deploys oversimplified binary choices like that, he’s putting them in the mouths of his opponents to contrast his own allegedly “nuanced” and thoughtful approach. You know how his speeches go: “Some say we should raise the highest income tax rate to 100 percent. Others want no income tax at all. I reject this false choice.” In this case, the false choice is his own: New sanctions are a third option beyond diplomacy and war, of course. A better deal with Iran than the current one is also an option, at least in theory. What Rhodes is doing in the quote above is framing the current deal as the only imaginable diplomatic solution; it isn’t, as the more hardline French(!) could tell you. In fact, by setting up the choice as “it’s this or war,” he’s completely undercutting the old White House lie that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” If you’re resolved not to go to war, as Obama is, and you see your choices as war versus some kind of deal, then the latter is your only option — regardless of the terms. A bad deal is better than no deal. And the Iranians clearly know that the White House feels that way.

Fearless prediction: If Senate Dems continue to hold out, the White House will shift its spin to argue that Iran wants the deal to fail — that’s why they’re making new demands at the last minute, or so Obama will claim — and therefore the surest way the U.S. can stick it to the mullahs is to, uh, agree to their terms and force them to live with the deal after all. That’ll show ’em, right? In lieu of an exit question, via Newsbusters, here’s reporter April Ryan trying and failing, naturally, to come up with any countries apart from Iran (and Cuba) with whom the U.S. has a better relationship now than it did under Bush.

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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023