As we await word on a possible Iran nuclear deal–which has already missed two tentative deadlines–Greg Sargent makes this salient point about the certain domestic reaction:

The Wall Street Journal has a useful rundown of the remaining outstanding issues. The two key ones appear to be how much access inspectors will have to Iran’s nuclear sites, and how quickly Iran would be able to reactivate its nuclear program between year 10 and 15, with western officials pushing to keep the time span above six months.

One thing that is not an outstanding question: Republicans — and perhaps some Senate Democrats — already know the deal is woefully inadequate, even though they haven’t seen the details yet.

This second point is reinforced abundantly by Greg’s conservative WaPo colleague Jennifer Rubin, who is exercising her penchant for serving as an foreign policy ideological commissar for the GOP today by shouting at Chris Christie for being open to the possibility that the final deal will be acceptable. Her rationale is interesting:


If there is a deal and if a Republican is elected to the White House stepping away from a deal will be very difficult. The Democrats will claim it is an act of war. The press will paint the president as reckless. The Europeans will screech. The anti-Israel groups like J Street will go bonkers. This is why it is necessary for Republicans to find a tough-as-nails commander in chief. If he already is shaky about walking away from the deal there is no chance in the world he will bring himself to do it when the chips are down.

So denouncing any deal a priori will make it easier to abrogate it in the very near future. That’s become the Republican approach to diplomacy, sad to say: the signature of the President of the United States of America (in conjunction with key allies, BTW) on an international agreement expires the day he or she leaves office. And treating this agreement before it is even reached as anathema is part of the price of admission to the 2016 GOP presidential race. Amazing.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.