Is that headline unfair? Unless I’ve misunderstood the terms of the deal, we’ve agreed to let Iran enrich however much uranium it wants to whatever degree of refinement it wants. All it has to do is wait 10 years. Obama himself said a few months ago that the time needed for Iran to “break out” and spin up enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb might effectively shrink to zero in the last few years of the deal. We agreed to this. Once Democrats in the Senate are done blocking any quixotic Republican attempts to block the deal, it’ll be U.S. policy. And no matter what Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tell you, they’re not going to tear up that policy on day one — not because they’re afraid of alienating Iran but because they’re afraid of alienating Europe, which will be only too happy to see sanctions lifted and only too willing to let this be exclusively Israel’s problem from now on.
Ed has a post coming up about the likelihood that Democrats in Congress might cross the aisle and help the GOP defeat this deal. I’d say the odds are about the same as the odds were of Obama walking away from the bargaining table with Iran, no matter how many U.S. concessions it required to keep them there. Namely, zero. John Podhoretz sees the future:
It’s full of temporizing numbers — no conventional weapons purchases for five years, no ballistic missile purchases for eight years, supposedly no weapons-grade uranium for 10 to 15 years.
These numbers suggest any crisis will happen in a future in which many current members of Congress will no longer be serving.
This time-stretch will, I fear, be enough for many Democrats…
Indeed, as many as 12 [Senate] Democrats could theoretically receive a quiet blessing to vote against the president on the legislation — as long as that’s as far as it goes.
Right. Remember, thanks to Bob Corker’s sellout, the deal will take effect unless Republicans first vote to disapprove it and then, after Obama vetoes their resolution of disapproval, override his veto with a two-thirds majority. That means 67 votes at a moment when there are 54 Republican seats. The only suspense here is how many Dems will be allowed to cross the aisle and protect themselves by voting with the GOP. Would the White House be comfortable with 66 no votes, knowing that that would preserve the deal but also fearing the inevitable headlines about Democrats defecting en masse to almost declare no confidence in Obama’s big triumph? I bet they’ll hold the number down to 63 votes or thereabout, just to keep up appearances. Consider this “success theater,” a Democratic version of Republican “failure theater” where victory is assured but Obama has to pretend to almost lose to protect his caucus in the next midterms.
As for “failure theater”, the masters are hard at work:
But Republicans believe they will win the public relations battle on the deal, which largely unites the GOP and threatens to divide the Democratic Party.
Some Senate Republicans are thinking about moving a motion of approval of the deal, believing it would put Democrats in a tough spot ahead of next year’s elections. Such a move in the upper chamber could lead to less than half of the Senate backing the president, allowing for more favorable headlines for the GOP. The House, however, is more likely to pass a resolution of disapproval.
A third option is to move legislation sponsored by Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) placing new sanctions on Iran, which the Banking Committee passed earlier this year and has Democratic support.
Having forfeited their ability to actually block the deal by backing Corker, the GOP is now reduced to trying to win the PR battle — even though that’s largely out of their hands. The only way the agreement will really sting Hillary next year is if Iran is caught cheating, and even if that happens, the White House will work very hard to keep that information from the public until after election day. And then, when it comes out later, we’ll all be very angry and Democrats will pay no price whatsoever and everyone will move merrily on to the next topic.
Exit question: If 34 Democratic votes in the Senate is a sure thing, why is Obama holding this presser today? This is a sales pitch. Who’s he selling to that hasn’t already been sold?