Tuesday, July 14, 2015


After reading two Washington Post takes on the Iran deal -- by Greg Sargent (who urges Democrats to back the deal enthusiastically) and Jennifer Rubin (who thinks the deal is so self-evidently awful that all right-thinking people will run screaming from it) -- Ed Kilgore argues that the significance of the deal to American electoral politics is probably being exaggerated:
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.

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.
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:

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.


Victor said...

What the hell does that word even mean?
Is that a French word!

It sounds like something those French surrender-monkey’s would come up with!

It means ‘negotiation?’

Why negotiate when you can bomb and invade?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

In the words of the great John McCain, who should who should have be POTUS, instead of that Kenyan SocialiFasciCommuniAthieMusliHeathen Usurper:
Now that the deal is done, Obama's an "appeaser."
If the deal hadn't been done, they'd have painted him as a failed "appeaser!"

It's how the roll - opposites can always be drawn together with the same conclusion!

Anonymous said...

And expect some voters to agree that there's a real link.

But those are the same voters who think that Obama is coming to take their guns and planning to institute a Sharia government in the US.

On the other side are the voters who know that that link would be stupid (because ISIS and Iran are enemies - but then facts have a known liberal bias) and the voters who are still wondering why Joanna Cameron's superhero TV show from the 70s is getting talked about in the news so much lately.

This will have little to no domestic impact outside of the GOP primary - where denunciations of the agreement and plans to give the finger to our allies and reimpose sanctions unilaterally will be the baseline position every candidate needs to take.

Marcus said...

The Deal will be done….the capital markets want it…great business potential…Iran is a stable country.
Like Cuba…in the future the US embassies will return to both

Ask yourself why ISIS doesn’t scare very much Israel or Turkey (border countries)…because they are losing to the other tribes especially the Kurds…and badly to

sdhays said...

But what if Iran and its clients are able to force ISIS into retreat and collapse by September 2016? That will be difficult for Republicans to explain away (although they'll try).

Ken_L said...

It's interesting to speculate about the reaction from the right if there had been NO deal reached. Assuredly there would have been a bellowing chorus of "Told you so, Obama and Kerry out of their depth" crowing. But would the Netanyahu plan to increase sanctions until Tehran buckled still have been the right's preferred strategy?

I don't believe it would have been, because they have always known it's a fantasy. No, Netanyahu and the American right would have been howling that it was TOO LATE for increased sanctions, because Obama's fecklessness had allowed Iran to get too close to a bomb. I think they would have been in full-on triumphal "Send in the B-52s!" mode.

I hope history gives Obama and Kerry the credit they deserve for frustrating, or at least postponing, their country's slide into endless wars of aggression.