By Larry Gordon
Until Monday, the hunch was that after Senator Charles Schumer decided to oppose President Obama’s questionable nuclear deal with Iran, we would not be hearing from him again for a while. He would take this congressional off-month of August to fade into the background, to make himself scarce, and, if he could, plainly disappear.
That’s what it looked like until a few days ago, when Mr. Schumer surfaced to explain his position and why he might end up reluctantly, if actively, seeking to defeat an Iran deal that will leave the world–including the United States–a much more dangerous place than it was a few weeks ago.
Schumer said there were a few glaring details of the deal that Congress will vote on in September that he just could not go along with. The items he referenced this week included the idea that the U.S. has to give Iran 24 days’ notice in order to send inspectors to a site at which we believe Iran may be conducting nuclear-related activity.
The second item that troubled Mr. Schumer was this idea of releasing perhaps as much as $100 billion preliminarily, which Iran does not refute will in part be used to continue to fund terror activities around the world.
Even if Schumer could live with these two items the way that Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry, and the junior New York senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, can, Mr. Schumer could not reconcile the overt mistruth about the choice between this deal and going to war. That assertion by Barack Obama and John Kerry and those toeing the party line is just not true.
The insistence that the real choice is between the current deal and a better deal with the Iranian regime does just not resonate with Mr. Obama and his associates. When the president gets stuck on something, it seems, there is absolutely no moving him or changing his position no matter how absurd that position is.
It is not entirely untrue that war or a military conflagration of some sort in Iran might indeed be one of the options. That is always a possibility if we are attacked, for example, by Iran. If Iran fires a missile at some point that hits the United States, how are we going to respond–by saying that there is no military solution to this conflict?
No one wants war. It is not in anyone’s best interest–not Iran, not the U.S., and not Israel. But war with terror-oriented countries like Iran is always a possibility on some level. So the president saying that war is an option is not a complete distortion–but it’s close. But that does not mean that in the aftermath of this long P5+1 negotiating process it is a choice between a bad deal and war. A representation like that is disingenuous. And Chuck Schumer, one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Washington, knows that.
Jeff Ballabon, a well-known political consultant and activist for Israel, says that in his estimation Schumer is simply not doing enough. And he is additionally troubled by the organized Jewish community rushing to fete Schumer and praising him for doing what is so far not much more than a partial job.
Ballabon says that he is not happy with the AIPAC role at this point, either. “We need to win, and defeat this deal,” he says. “The idea that it is prudent to trade influence for access is just not sufficient at this point in time.”
Additionally troubling to many in the community is the fashion in which the news of Schumer’s opposition is couched. CNN refers to Schumer as the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress. It is the president, however, who said last week there is just one country in the world that is presently opposed to the deal with Iran, and that is Israel. And if there was any hesitation on Schumer’s part about coming out against the Iran deal, it is most likely because of his Jewishness that there seemed to be so much stalling and indecision.
Creating that type of imagery is the focus of the administration’s handlers on Iran. The objective here is to float the idea that Israel–or rather, the Jews–is the only country and people that prefers war to a diplomatic solution.
So we need Schumer to be outspoken about this distorted formulation as well. There was really nothing new about the deal that was not known months ago. Had Senator Schumer been outspoken during the course of the negotiations, he might have been able to impact more positively on the details of the deal. Instead he remained silent and let Mr. Obama have his way, and now we have to deal with this mess.
The pressing question that is not addressed often or forcefully enough is why Obama’s insistence that this deal will ensure that Iran doesn’t build a nuclear weapon is not effectively challenged. The nature of the deal is precisely that, ultimately, Iran is free to go nuclear. President Obama has clearly stated in unequivocal terms that at the end of the process, in 10 to 15 years, and discounting Iran’s notorious proclivity to cheat, there will be nothing and nobody able to stand in the way of Iran becoming a nuclear power.
“If Schumer feels the way he says he does about this, he should cancel his vacation plans and be working around the clock collecting the votes of senators to oppose the deal,” Jeff Ballabon says. “This issue is not about the Jews or Israel.” He adds that it is in the U.S. national interest to prevent the rogue regime in Iran from going nuclear. As Ballabon points out, Iran already possesses missiles that can reach Israel and Europe. The deal being presented to Congress, if approved, will allow Iran to purchase or develop missiles that can reach major cities in the United States. There is clearly something troubling about that.
In a press release issued Tuesday by the Zionist Organization of America, ZOA national president Morton A. Klein said, “President Obama implies that the opposition of members of Congress is not principled and concerned for American and international peace and security and that they have not given reasons for their opposition. This is a despicable lie. Congressional opponents of the deal, including Democrats, have given detailed, substantive reasons for their opposition. These include Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Juan Vargas (D-NY).”
A few days ago, it was believed that Schumer was the key to rallying support for the deal to go down to defeat, to be followed up by an override of a presidential veto. This would spell a major defeat and embarrassment for Mr. Obama. Apparently this is something that most Republicans are looking forward to, with an increasing number of Democrats joining in.
Schumer may not relish being the key, but he is–and he can either rise up to the occasion and become a hero of sorts, or just go back to being a run-of-the-mill political hack.
We have had a few good days where Mr. Schumer has been roundly lauded. That was good. There is still a lot of difficult work that needs to be done. Over the next few weeks and after all these years, we will find out what Chuck Schumer is truly made of–whether his leadership is real or just imagined.
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at email@example.com.