President Obama argues for diplomacy with Iran by reminding everyone of his detractors’ biggest failure.
President Obama has not exactly been patient with Congress when it comes to the multilateral diplomatic framework with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. After the agreement was announced last week, Obama called a press conference and used the event to methodically rip apart each argument critics have deployed against the deal. Time and again he challenged Republicans, conservatives and hand-wringing Democrats to put up or shut up: to lay out their alternative plans for keeping Iran from going nuclear. He promised to veto any measures the Republican-controlled Congress might send to him blocking the easing of sanctions on Iran. He wasn’t making a sales pitch; he was defying Congress to get in the way of potentially one of the most important diplomatic breakthroughs since the end of the Cold War.
Of course, by using pointy words and a confrontational tone of voice, Obama upset some members of the press who seem to think that bipartisan consensus may still be achieved when it comes to Iran and nuclear weapons:
Not sure Obama admin doing “defiant” style of selling Iran deal to Cong is wisest tactic. Accepting skepticism cd get them fairer hearing
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) July 21, 2015
Ah yes, if there’s one thing Republicans in Congress have made their hallmark during the Obama years, it’s the “fair hearing.” We’ve already seen 47 members of the Senate Republican caucus attempt to preemptively sabotage the deal with a provocative letter to the government of Iran. Many of those senators are also running for president, and they’re trying to out-hawk one another by accusing the administration of engaging in Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement. Most Senate Republicans have been taking their Iran cues from Tom Cotton, who is already planning bombing runs against Iranian nuclear facilities. Sen. Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, said “this agreement condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf.” He does not represent a minority viewpoint. Who exactly is going to give the “fair hearing” in this situation?
The reason Obama’s not banging his head against the wall and trying to get Congress to approve the deal is that he’s fairly confident Congress can’t actually do anything to stop it. The 60-day period for congressional review has already begun, and as the New York Times noted, “the numbers suggest Mr. Obama will prevail; if Congress rejects the Iran accord, he promised on Tuesday to veto the legislation, and he has enough Democrats to win that contest.” Instead of getting Congress on his side, Obama’s working to convince the public that the Iran deal is the right course of action, and that his critics are wrong.