In a press release yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner said of Obama’s support for the Iran deal, “The President has lost this debate with the American People.” Later in the day, he suggested that failure to attack Iran instead of negotiating with it shows a lack of commitment to democracy (more on that below).
In all my travels over the last month, the issue I heard about the most was the issue of the Iran agreement.
Listen, this is a bad deal. Most Americans oppose it. Most Members of Congress oppose it – including the top Democrats on the Foreign Affairs Committee in both the House and the Senate.
At this point, I think the president has lost this debate with the American people. He lost it the moment that he agreed to a deal that allows Iran to stay on a path to develop a nuclear weapon.
We’re going to do all we can to continue to try to stop this bad deal.”
Of course, in the event, Boehner was forced to cancel the vote on his own Iran resolution yesterday, so apparently what they are going to do is not much but b*tch and moan and demonstrate to the American people that Congress, despite seven years of doing nothing, has not yet run out of excuses for reasons not to do its job.
Unhappily, when Boehner claims “Most Americans oppose it,” Pew Research Center, in a report dated September 8, shows he is correct, alerting us to the unpleasant fact that “As Congress prepares to vote on the Iran nuclear agreement, public support for the deal has declined.”
In mid-July, a week after President Obama announced the deal, 33% of the public approved of the agreement, while 45% disapproved and 22% had no opinion. Over the past six weeks, the share approving of the agreement has fallen 12 percentage points (from 33% to 21%), while disapproval has held fairly steady (45% then, 49% now). Somewhat more express no opinion than did so in July (22% then, 30% now).
In this rare instance, while Boehner is actually right about something – Americans do not support the Iran deal – this lack of support is largely the result of misinformation spread, in large part, by himself and others in his party, and by the network that binds them all, Fox News.
Unfortunately for those like Boehner who oppose the Iran deal, it’s the only deal in town, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein has pointed out:
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 9, 2015
And no deal likely means war. That’s what Republicans are openly campaigning for.
However, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) pointed out yesterday that she, if not chickenhawks like Boehner, know the true cost of war:
I understand war's true cost & am keenly aware of the dangers of failing to exhaust the diplomatic option on Iran: http://t.co/2Bocl7MXH2
— Tammy Duckworth (@TammyforIL) September 9, 2015
Boehner, speaking last night at the International Republican Institute’s Freedom Award Dinner, would have you believe that the Obama administration has shown a “lack of commitment to democracy” because it will not “support America’s allies and the world’s freedom fighters,” which is code, of course, for war.
The fact is, endless war has never been synonymous with democracy. War should never be a first option. It weakens a nation if it does not destroy it, as the events of 2008 proved. Now, just as we are experiencing the effects of recovery after seven years of a pragmatic and realistic foreign policy, the Republican Party would plunge us once more into war.
A war none of them will have to fight.
Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), unlike Boehner, has issued a statement offering a reasoned argument for rejecting the JCPOA, and concludes that “Ultimately this is a vote of conscience and I cannot in good conscience vote for” the agreement. In his statement, he makes a case for the role of Congress as a coequal branch of government, while admitting that “rejecting the JCPOA, or the TPP, will result in a weakening of the credibility of the Executive Branch and that from the point of view of the Administration, the alternatives are worse.”
Yes, Congress is a coequal branch of government. It is a pity Republicans do not remember that the Executive Branch is also. The last seven years would have been vastly better for all Americans, and for the world. Sadly, that has not been the case.
In fact, Breitbart editor Joel Pollak avers that the “Most impressive part of @RepTedLieu‘s analysis is his concern for what #IranDeal does to the Constitution & Congress.” Actually, Lieu does not say the Iran deal does anything to the Constitution or to Congress. Rather, he says that rejecting the deal will weaken the credibility of the Executive Branch.
Which has been Boehner’s goal all along.
Furthermore, Lieu points out, that “I respect the Constitution and I respect our President. If the JCPOA goes into effect, I will certainly work with this Administration to implement the JCPOA and minimize the negative consequences I believe will occur as a result of the agreement.”
One might disagree with Lieu’s findings – for example, his claim that “The main problem with the ‘alternatives are worse’ line of argument is that it tends to diminish the role of Congress, which is absolutely false. The ‘alternatives are worse’ line of argument tends rather to embrace the idea that war is worse than peace.
I can assure Rep. Lieu that supporters of the JCPOA do not in any way diminish the role of Congress in propelling America toward war with Iran.
Leiu, at least, respects our system of government, however misguided his thinking may be, unlike the twice traitorous Republicans who have already sought to undermine the Executive Branch by working with foreign powers, once with regards the JCPOA, and more recently, with the Paris climate talks.
It is a funny argument to make, that Obama has shown a lack of commitment to democracy, when the House, under Boehner, has worked during Obama’s entire presidency, to undermine the Executive Branch, to withdraw his coequal branch of government from actively governing when not outright shutting down the government, expecting all the while for the Executive to surrender to the Legislative.
In both word and deed, Boehner has shown America that democracy is the last thing he and his fellow Republicans want.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.