Our hardliners, and Iran's

It’s simple, but deceptive. This tactic understates the power of Iran’s hardliners and dramatically overstates the power of U.S. hardliners.

In Iran, the people inside the system who are negotiating a deal, such as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, must take the agreement to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for approval. In Iran, the hardliner approves the deal.

In the U.S. system it’s the other way around. Senators like Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz support amendments that would set new conditions before lifting Congressional sanctions on Iran. But there are not enough votes in the Senate to overturn an Obama veto on the legislation if these amendments are attached. In other words, Obama frames the conversation in the U.S., because he has the power to ignore his hardliners whereas Zarif is obliged to placate his.

Then there is the substance of the amendments themselves. Democrats and Republicans have derided certain Republicans’ amendments to the bill as “poison pills,” aimed at making a deal with Iran impossible. But these amendments would require Iran to end its war against its neighbors, release U.S. citizens who have been jailed and recognize the right of the world’s only Jewish state to exist. Outside the context of Iran negotiations, these are hardly radical views. Obama has expressed support for these positions himself.