Most of the time the results of presidential or congressional actions are not clearly obvious for years. That is why it is so easy for the opposition to demagogue them in the meantime.
Case in point: contrary to the opinions expressed by most experts, Republicans insist that the deal reached with Iran makes it more likely that they will develop nuclear weapons. Last night, President Obama said that it prevented the next war. It will be years before we can point to evidence that definitively proves Republicans were wrong. Given our current media’s obsession with balance, the whole question is relayed to the American public as a “he said/she said” kind of disagreement.
But yesterday, in the mere 24 hours surrounding the SOTU, we were able to see a situation unfold in a way that demonstrates how quick Republicans have been to jump on the anti-Obama bandwagon – no matter what that means – and just how wrong that leads them to be.
Of course I’m talking about the two naval vessels and 10 U.S. sailors that were taken into custody by Iran yesterday. As soon as the news broke, Republicans were ON IT. Here’s just a sample from twitter:
If our sailors aren’t coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining. Obama’s humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) January 12, 2016
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 13, 2016
It’s hard to overstate how foolish Iran keeps making our president look. https://t.co/4uHX37L1CT
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 12, 2016
On several occasions recently President Obama has suggested that perhaps Republicans should aim before they shoot. This situation was a perfect example of why that might be a good idea. Because less than 24 hours after these boats and sailors were taken into custody by Iran, they were released. Perhaps the Republican hair-trigger response can be attributed to how these kinds of incidents have turned out in the past under their leadership. Jay Bookman summarizes:
Obama didn’t buy back our sailors with secret shipments of missiles and other weapons, as President Reagan did in attempting to recover Americans held hostage by the Iranians a generation ago. Our sailors weren’t held for almost two weeks by the Iranians, with their ships dismantled and held hostage until what amounted to a ransom was paid, as occurred in an incident involving the Chinese and an American spy plane under President George W. Bush.
So, why was this incident resolved so quickly? Thomas Erdbrink and Helene Cooper report the following:
Also playing a role was the strong relationship that has developed between Mr. Kerry and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, during negotiations on the nuclear deal, Mr. Taraghi said.
“John Kerry and Zarif were on the phone during the past hours, and this helped the problem to be resolved quickly due to their direct contact,” he said.
In other words, contrary to everything Republicans have been saying…diplomacy works!
P.S. Lately I find myself wishing that John Kerry would be willing to stay on as SoS next year (assuming a Democrat wins the White House, of course).