Barack Obama’s sales pitch for his deal on Iran has fallen flat, and he isn’t terribly happy about it. In a pattern that has become more pronounced over the last few years, the President has reacted to the widespread and sustained criticism of the deal cut by John Kerry with the Iranians with name-calling. Last night in Las Vegas, for example, Obama divided up the sides on the deal between those who support his policy, and “the crazies” [see update]:
There are the people on his side on the Iran deal, President Barack Obama said Monday evening. Then there are “the crazies.” …
Ruddy from the sun, Obama described himself as “refreshed, renewed, recharged — a little feisty.”
And he delivered, recounting the ride he and Reid had just taken from the conference to the fundraiser in his up-armored presidential limo, where they talked about old times and getting back to Washington to “deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems.”
Cameron Gray notes the sharp change in approach from Candidate Obama just three years ago:
2015: President Obama calls opponents "the crazies” http://t.co/CSQihgwWxE
— Cameron Gray (@Cameron_Gray) August 25, 2015
Like all of Obama’s declarations, this came with an expiration date. His 2008 opponent, John McCain, hasn’t been much better, with his use of “wacko birds” and “hobbits” as insults to opponents (within his own party, no less), but McCain didn’t run as the prophet of Hope and Change, either. Obama has been the most prolific of all straw-men killers in office, routinely assigning the worst possible motives to his opponents and misrepresenting their arguments to laud himself as The Last Reasonable Man in Politics. That, in fact, is his enduring quality, one that a careful reading of The Audacity of Hope* would demonstrate existed long before his presidential aspirations found root.
This straw man will be difficult to animate before Obama can set it ablaze. The “crazies” presumably include Democrats like Robert Menendez, Steve Israel, Chuck Schumer, and a number of others who have announced their opposition to this bad deal. Opposition to this deal has done the near-impossible in Israel in uniting its political class. More to the point here, though, supporters of the deal are in the minority, both in Congress and in the electorate at large. In fact, the new Quinnipiac poll shows 2:1 opposition in three key swing states, all of which went for Obama in both presidential elections:
President Barack Obama gets a split decision as voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania support his proposal to limit pollution from coal-fired energy plants by more than 2-1, while they oppose the proposed nuclear pact with Iran by margins of more than 2-1, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.
President Obama remains under water with negative approval ratings of 41 – 56 percent in Florida, 42 – 54 percent in Ohio and 41 – 56 percent in Pennsylvania, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.
The best Obama gets on the Iran deal question is in Ohio, where voters split 24/58 on the deal. Pennsylvanians oppose it 26/61, and Floridians 25/61. The question of whether the deal makes the world safer is almost identical: 26/56, 27/60, and 27/61, respectively.
The internal demographics are a total loss for Obama on this question.The numbers for independents in all three states are similar to the overall opposition in all three states. Women and younger voters oppose the deal by 2:1 margins in all three states The only demo that supports the deal is Democrats, but not by a wide margin. Only in Pennsylvania do a majority of Democrats support it, and only 50/32. If foreign policy becomes a significant voter issue in the 2016 election, this deal may sink any Democrat that backs it, although it’s a mighty big if on whether that will be the deciding point for voters.
Nevertheless, it’s outrageously dishonest for Obama to paint opposition to this deal as just among “the crazies.” On numbers alone, one has to wonder whether his appellation speaks more to Obama’s own side rather than those hoping to stop this deal.
* – That is not a recommendation … especially in the audio format in which I experienced it.
Update: Politico got way out over its skis on this story. The transcript of the event doesn’t connect Obama’s comment about “the crazies” specifically to the Iran deal. However, it makes it sound more like anyone who opposes the Obama-Harry Reid agenda qualifies as “the crazies”:
It’s hard for me to express how much I love Harry Reid — (applause) — but it’s easier to do it in a room of people who love Harry Reid. (Applause.) Harry and I drove over here together and we were doing a little reminiscing, and then figuring out how we’re going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems. And then we talked about riding off into the sunset together.
Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished because Harry Reid was there by my side. (Applause.) And I am forever grateful for his friendship and his strength, because the thing about Harry is he’s a great politician but he’s also a man with a lot of backbone and is willing to do hard things when it’s required, and that’s what you want out of a political leader.
Granted, Obama said this just after Reid announced his support for the Iran deal, but the reference here appears much more broad.
Update: “A little glib”?
White House's @Schultz44 on Obama calling some political opponents "crazies" — "he may have been a little glib in his language"
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) August 25, 2015
Coming from Schultz, that’s saying something.