How They Failed to Block the Iran Deal


Elizabeth Drew in The New York Review of Books:

The president’s congressional victory on the nuclear agreement with Iran had many sources, not least of which were the nature and tactics of the opposition. It might have been more difficult to achieve if the Republicans as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allied American group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), had given any sense that they had thoughtfully considered the deal that six nations reached with Iran, or if they had offered any alternative. But the agreement with Iran collided with the current state of American politics.

Once the nuclear deal was presented to Congress in July, there was little question that it would fall into the deep crevasse that had developed between the two political parties. Ever since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Republicans have opposed everything he wanted to do. In keeping with this strategy, within days of the deal’s being announced, numerous Republicans, without bothering to read the agreement or consider it seriously, jumped to oppose it.

The debate on the deal throughout was only ostensibly on its merits. The Republicans’ contempt for Obama—as a Democrat, as a black person, as, in the view of many of them, an illegitimate president—was clear to any close observer. For the first time in US history, the opposition party thumbed its nose at the president by inviting the head of another nation—Netanyahu—to address Congress to urge rejection of an international measure the president supported. When Secretary of State John Kerry, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared before it to testify on the agreement, he was greeted with overt contempt by its Republican members. The current chairman, Bob Corker of Tennessee, told him, “You’ve been fleeced.”

More here.