Obama foot soldiers Tommy Vietor, Dan Pfeiffer and Jon Favreau may have made common cause with Holocaust-denying radical Twelvers hoping to obtain nuclear weapons to threaten millions of Jews, but that doesn’t mean you should be fooled by their frustration. And you definitely shouldn’t be fooled by the theater surrounding Chuck Schumer’s opposition to the president’s Iran deal.
Schumer offered a detailed, 1600-word justification for his opposition to the deal and, in the most obsequious and gentle way imaginable, pointed out an abundance of falsehoods Obama’s been peddling regarding the deal.
“I still believe that a negotiated solution is the best course of action,” Schumer wrote. “That’s the path I believe we should pursue.” Pfeiffer says this means Schumer wants “War with Iran,” which is the sort contemptible smear that slips so easily from the mouths of the Obama boosters these days.
The more pertinent question is: would Schumer have taken this position if he were the decisive vote or if he had any legitimate shot at helping override President Obama’s veto of a motion disapproving the deal? It seems doubtful. In fact, it seems like Schumer waited long enough to make sure his vote wouldn’t matter much, if at all. Just ponder this statement: “There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way,” Schumer wrote in another statement. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion.”
What does this even mean? Is there a time that politicians don’t come to their own conclusions or vote according to their own consciences? Does Schumer normally force other Senators to cast votes in a certain way? If Schumer believes Iranian hardliners are exploiting Obama’s deal to further their goal of obtaining a nuclear arsenal, and this reality is of “great consequence,” doesn’t he have a moral obligation to be a bit more persuasive—or at least as enthusiastic as he’s been on an array of far less consequential issues over the years?
As Politico reports today, Schumer has been quietly reaching to his colleagues to explain his decision and to promise them he would not be whipping opposition to the Iran deal.
Because, really, what costs does Schumer face if he opposes Obama on Iran but does nothing concrete to change the outcome? His constituents wouldn’t blame him for opposing a deal. No one would challenge him at home. The more people know about this deal, and the less vague the questions pollster ask are, the more Americans dislike it—and that’s exactly why the administration is consigned to offer false choices and ugly insinuations.
Would Schumer lose his bid to lead Senate Democrats in 2017? Doubtful. Dick Durbin said this week that Chuck Schumer’s fake position on the Iran nuclear deal won’t endanger his bid to become the next Senate Democratic leader. MoveOn.org announced a “donor strike,” but MoveOn.org has never moved anyone in any direction they weren’t already moving anyway. Senate Democrats have rarely come close to matching the hysterical tone used by Obama administration officials. The prevailing reason for this might be that these Senators are the ones who’ll have to deal with the political repercussions when Iran is completely clear of sanctions and free to cheat again.
But none of Schumer’s criticisms about this deal are new. We were all aware of the parameters months ago. It is seems implausible that Schumer, a powerful senior senator from New York, wouldn’t have been privy to many of negotiation details, or that he’d come to some big revelation about the Iranian regime’s nature this very week. A month ago, even a few weeks ago, his opposition might have had some serious impact. But it matters far less now that the Obama administration has framed any opposition to the deal as an attempt by Jewish Americans to lobby their way into a war.
At this point, Schumer is just trying to have it both ways: standing against the Iran nuclear deal while knowing full well it won’t make any difference.
Updated August 12, 2015.