Posturing on Iran

The reaction from Republicans and some pundits to the fact that President Obama is likely to sign a bill that allows Congress to weigh in on a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries has been a bit amusing to watch.

For example, Sen. Corker – Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – wanted to make sure that everyone knew that neither the President nor any of his staff had been consulted.

“By the way, I know they’ve made comments that somehow they have been working with me,” he said. “I can tell you nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve had no conversations about the substance of this bill with any principal, whether it be the president, Secretary Kerry or others.”

Heaven forbid that anyone would think that Republicans would work with the President on a piece of legislation! Remember this one next time someone (cough – Ron Fournier – cough) does their pearl-clutching about how “both sides are to blame” for the gridlock in Washington.

And then there are the pundits like Peter Baker, who opens with this:

In his assertions of executive power to advance his agenda in an era of gridlock, President Obama has been largely on offense. But his latest battle with Congress not only left him on defense, it actually broke the gridlock. Against him.

Mr. Obama’s abrupt decision to sign a compromise version of legislation on Iran that he had previously vowed to veto was a bruising retreat in his larger campaign to act without Congress’s getting in his way.

I suspect that folks like Baker don’t realize that the very reason why most Americans hate politics is because this is how it is so often framed: offense/defense, win/lose. It’s all a game.

If you actually read through Baker’s whole article, you will find that his conclusion seems at odds with his own opening statement. He ends by quoting Harold Hongju Koh, a former top lawyer in the State Department, who says that President Obama made lemonade out of lemons. Doesn’t sound much like a “bruising retreat” after all, does it?

Imagine with me for a moment if, instead of this kind of nonsense, we were hearing that the legislative and executive branches of our government had come up with a compromise that respected the role of Congress, but didn’t put the negotiations with Iran at risk.

Nah…nobody wants to hear good news like that, do they?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .