So now the new hotness among Republicans is that they shouldn't bother voting to disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal, and instead should vote for a resolution that, according to Politico's Jake Sherman, "would delay a disapproval vote because they believe Obama has not disclosed some elements of the deal." ....Ahh, yes -- the "secret side deal." There's no such thing, but that fact is completely unknown to the vast majority of Americans:
Republicans, in this new plan, would argue that President Obama didn't live up to his promise to fully inform Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, so therefore Congress cannot vote on whether to approve the deal....
Republicans' argument is basically this: President Obama promised to send Congress the full text of the Iran nuclear once it was reached (true), after which Congress has 60 days to review before voting on whether to disapprove of the deal (true), but Obama did not technically complete his end of the bargain (false) because he did not send Congress the text of the "secret side deal" with Iran (complicated; see below). Therefore the 60-day congressional review never happened (false), thus the deal is illegitimate (false).
The alleged "secret side deal" is an agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (the UN nuclear watchdog) and Iran over how the IAEA will conduct certain inspections and verification procedures of Iranian facilities, as well as IAEA investigations into past elements of Iran's nuclear program that may have had a military component.Kevin Drum writes,
The IAEA has such agreements with every country where it works, including the United States. Because the IAEA wants as much access as possible, and because countries do not necessarily want the details of their nuclear facilities broadcast to the world, the details of these agreements are typically secret. That is the case with the IAEA's agreement with Iran.
It's hard to work up the energy to write about this stuff seriously. It just doesn't deserve it. It's transparent political theater designed to feed the outrage machine....But it's not transparent -- maybe it's transparent to politically informed people, but not to the rest of America, including Americans who, months ago, told pollsters they were in favor of an Iran deal. To them, it's believable -- which is part of the reason that, even as senators get on board to ensure that the deal survives, public support for it is plummeting. This is from Pew:
As Congress prepares to vote on the Iran nuclear agreement, public support for the deal has declined. Currently, just 21% approve of the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program reached between the United States, Iran and other nations. Nearly half (49%) disapprove of the agreement, while three-in-ten (30%) offer no opinion.The "side deal" meme has been spreading since at least mid-July. The administration response could have been stronger:
Yet the administration’s initial response to the GOP arguments was muddled.There were a couple of tweets:
While State Department spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday said there were no “side deals” and that the IAEA arrangements were normal, Rice described the arrangement as an agreement between Iran and the IAEA.
She hastened to add that the deals were not secret, that the administration new their contents and were “satisfied” with them. She also pledged administration officials would hold classified briefings for lawmakers on the details.
The White House also took to Twitter to rebut GOP claims.That's not much. And since then, what? The administration more or less ceded discussion of the deal to the right. And now the House could vote to weaponize this lie. Why is it always unthinkable that Democrats will effectively counter this sort of thing?
“There's no ‘secret’ or ‘side’ deal with Iran. Congress has everything we have on the #IranDeal” read one tweet on @TheIranDeal account, set up by the White House to sell the agreement to the public.
“Lots of misperceptions re the #IranDeal,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice tweeted. “This is a good deal that should be judged on its merits, not distortions.”