To be as decent (or deadly) as Ruth Marcus

Sometime in September Congress will have to vote on Obama’s anti-nuke agreement with Iran. And the Republicans have been decent enough to tell us their innermost thoughts about that. They’ve pointed out the uncanny similarities between the president and Neville Chamberlain and guaranteed us the Jews will once again be marched to the ovens.

For the rest of us – including the treaty’s chief proponent – this is all B-movie stock and a little absurd and perhaps worthy of some eye-rolling. For WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus though the un-seriousness on our part pains her greatly and, we assume, prods her to raise her finger, wave it around at us and pointedly lecture this – dear, what shall we call him? – this “President.” And I think I speak for everyone when I say Thanks Ruth because I’m not sure where we’d be without the Stepford Wife of centrism.

President Obama says those who oppose the Iran nuclear deal are either ideological or illogical. I support the deal, yet I think this assessment is incorrect and unfair. It diminishes the president’s case for congressional approval.

In Marcusville, the burgeoning Beltway exurb, the making of pointed arguments diminishes whatever arguments you’re making. You might think it convenient for one to have “facts”, and you may be of the opinion they argue substantially for one’s “side”, but actually saying them out loud is hardly any way to practice politics. You never see Dwight Eisenhower behaving this way, do you? And let’s put aside that the general is long since dead and Ruth’s memory is obviously shot. Let’s instead just agree that she knows a ruffian when she sees one.

Obama once understood, even celebrated, this gray zone of difficult policy choices…

The new Obama, hardened and embittered — the one on display in his American University speech last week and in the follow-up spate of interviews — has close to zero tolerance for those who reach contrary conclusions.

It’s a hardened and embittered president who would disagree with someone trying to trash his treaty. Why can’t he be more soft and cuddly, this man? Why can’t he take a little time to understand and then perhaps even celebrate his opponents’ sensible objections?

“You have created a possible death sentence for Israel,” [Lindsey Graham] declared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“This is a virtual declaration of war against Sunni Arabs,” he said.

“This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I have ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast. Barack Obama, John Kerry, have been dangerously naive,” he added.

In this case, why can’t he say “I understand your criticism of my hard-won agreement Senator Graham. Which of course amounts to Fuck You, Barack. And I want you to know I will take your advice – It’s a Holocaust! – under serious consideration.” Would that be so hard? Really? “And like any other reasonable Commander-in-Chief, I welcome all of your opinions on bombing Iran.”

This Obama does not grant the legitimacy of his opponents’ concerns; he questions their bona fides in expressing them. “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal,” he observed.

Look here, just because John Bolton said these things about Iraq:

“We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.” He added that, “the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn’t welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime,” and that … “the American role [in post-war Iraq] actually will be fairly minimal.”

…that shouldn’t preclude him from joining the adult conversation. It doesn’t mean his current opinions on Iran (NYT: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”) shouldn’t be discussed as if they recently emanated from a burning bush, and then ultimately validated.

The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.

Bolton happens to be a blood-stained Republican who has killed thousands of Americans in the past, why can’t the president respect that? Is it too much to ask he spend a little time listening to John thoughtfully? As well to all of his pact’s other critics, who only want what Israel does – that America never make any deal with Iran under any circumstances, no matter what?

I think after having heard them all out, every last one of the warpath right-wing, with all their identical opinions, the president could then make quite a robust argument against his own agreement.

The more the president makes that case, the less he insults his critics — yes, even the ones who insult him as a feckless, naive negotiator — the better.

…the more the president makes that case – yes, even to deaf ears, in deferential phrases and dulcet tones please – the better. Because ultimately the multi-national arglebargle, with all its foofy designs on avoiding war and reducing atomic weapons abroad, isn’t really all that important compared to fostering an air of middle-American civility and meaningless respect back here at home. Where I, Ruth Marcus, just happen to live. I’ll have you know I believe all of this generally and universally though I would never be interested in seeing it realized on the other side. Because everybody knows the Republicans are a seething swarm of Glock-toting Daddies who never listen to anybody – to me, a WaPo employee, least of all. It’s not like I’m stupid. Thank you all, this has been…“Barack Obama: Embittered and unfair over Iran.”

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