Sometime in September Congress will have to vote on Obama’s anti-nuke agreement with Iran. And the Republicans have been kind enough to tell us their innermost thoughts about that. They’ve pointed out the uncanny similarities between the president and Neville Chamberlain and warned us that 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 laughably absurd and worthy of some eye-rolling. For WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus though the un-seriousness on our part is greatly paining and, we assume, the reason she has taken to the Op-Ed pages to raise her finger, wave it around and lecture this – dear, what shall we call him? – this “president.” And I think I speak for everyone when I say ‘thank you Ruth’ because I’m not sure where we’d all 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 saying them out loud is not a civilized way to practice politics. You never see Dwight Eisenhower behaving this way, do you? And for now let’s put aside that the General is long since dead and Ruth’s memory is completely shot. Let’s instead just agree that she knows a hooligan 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 celebrate his opponents’ middle-ground 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.
Tough stuff. But had Graham actually seen the deal?
“No,” he admitted, when host Mika Brzezinski asked him.
For example, in this case, why can’t he say “I think I understand your criticism of my hard-won agreement, Senator Graham, which I take to be ‘Fuck You‘, and I want you to know that I will seriously take it under advisement.” Would that be so hard? “And I celebrate anyone, like you, with a Bomb Iran agenda.”
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.
And in this case, 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.”
…it shouldn’t preclude him from joining the adult conversation. It doesn’t mean that his current opinions on Iran [NYT: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”] shouldn’t be discussed and 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 vaunted Republican with dangerous opinions, why can’t the president accept 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 the details?
I think having heard them all out, every last one of them, with all their identical opinions, the president could then make quite a convincing case. I think the Republicans would be very interested to learn about a particular provision I found personally compelling: Ratifying the Holocaust-appeasement would put it into effect for the next 10 years.
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.
…and 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 designs on avoiding war and reducing nuclear stockpiles, isn’t really as important as fostering an air of starched civility and respect here at home. I believe all of this, incidentally, even though I’m only interested seeing it realized on the one side. Thanks everybody, I’m Ruth Marcus and this has been “Barack Obama: Embittered and unfair over Iran…”