As it happens, I think even Greg may be overstating the political importance of this issue outside the fever swamps where people like Rubin live. If there is any foreign policy/national security issue that is getting the attention of Americans right now, it is ISIS, Iran’s sworn enemy. If indeed some of the newly liberated export dollars make their way into the hands of Iran’s regional clients, a good deal of it will be spent on fighting ISIS. Now I don’t know that many Americans will look at it that way, but suffice it to say that the Iranian threat to the U.S. is very second-hand, and that outside certain precincts of the Christian Right that are not up for grabs in the 2016 presidential election, you cannot make a U.S. election-turning argument based on Bibi Netanyahu’s construction of Israel’s interests.Kilgore has a point. An April Bloomberg poll showed that American were more or less evenly divided on the value of an Iran deal -- 49% were optimistic that a deal would lead to a safer world, while 43% were pessimistic, with a huge partisan split (Democrats 70% optimistic, Republicans 62% pessimistic, and independents 48% upbeat, 45% downbeat). There's also a big partisan divide on Netanyahu:
Because Christian Right and also militarist voters do matter in the Republican presidential nominating contest, I suspect the main political import of this deal for the time being will be its usefulness as a token of both anti-Obama and anti-anti-Bibi savagery in the Republican presidential nomination contest.
With regard to the Israeli prime minister, other polls show a similar split. Unquestioning support for Netanyahu just isn't widespread across the political spectrum. Nor is pure distrust of Iran.
But I think Kilgore may be exaggerating the degree to which voters can separate the issues of Iran and ISIS. Let me put that another way: I'm not sure a lot of Americans can even distinguish Iran and ISIS. The right-wing press is going to make a lot of noise about any bad behavior on the part of Iran for the rest of Obama's term, but there'll also be efforts to link every bad act by any Muslim anywhere to Neville Chamberlain Obama's appeasement of the Iranian mullahs.
Will that connect with voters? Hard to say. We know that the public's approval of Obama on foreign policy turned negative in his second term, and remains negative. ISIS is the biggest reason it remains negative. The question is whether the Obama bashers can work Iran into the mix, linking unrelated problems to the treaty.
Well, the right would be bashing Obama (and Hillary Clinton) even if John Kerry had walked away from the negotiating table, so maybe it's a moot point. But if there's a truly horrible attack on Americans, even stateside by a U.S.-born supporter of Iran's sworn enemy ISIS, expect the right to mention the treaty. And expect some voters to agree that there's a real link.