December 23, 2013

The president and his national security team have failed to convince lawmakers in both parties that the interim Iran deal is a good one and/or that a suspension of some sanctions is a good idea. If anything, the president’s “let’s not make Iran mad” attitude has provoked widespread concern that the president does not appreciate the gravity of the situation or the  nature of the Iranian regime. In response to serious people making serious — and I think correct — arguments against his current approach.

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photograph, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., right, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, announce with other senators that they have reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. Menendez, whose political career began in a place with a reputation as one of the most corrupt corners of the nation, has often found himself the focus of ethics allegations. To his critics, he's the bad guy who always wiggles away; to defenders, he's a figure who is persecuted in whispers and investigations, rather than findings or indictments. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), right, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are key players in Iran sanctions legislation (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on “Meet the Press” had this to say:

Well, look, there are many of us, Democrats and Republicans, in this Senate who believe the best way to avoid war and get Iran to give up nuclear weapons is by ratcheting up sanctions, not by reducing them. The Iranians didn’t come to the table out of the goodness of their heart. This administration still labels them a terrorist organization–the supreme leader Khomeini is still pulling the strings. And only tough sanctions will get them to give up. Now, look, I give the president credit for talking. I don’t agree with some on the hard line who say no talking until they give up everything. But the bottom line is very simple. It’s pretty logical that it’s sanctions, tough sanctions that brought them to the table. If they think they can ease up on the sanctions without getting rid of their nuclear capabilities, they’re– they’re going to do that. So we have to be tough. And the legislation we put in says to the Iranians, if you don’t come to an agreement after six months and the president can extend it to a year, the sanctions are going to toughen up.

The White House owes Schumer and the country a serious answer. Its insistence on the “We’re right; everyone else is political” is going to serve it poorly. Congress, when it returns, is very likely to pass a sanctions bill that will set penalties for Iranian violation of the interim deal  and the contours of a final deal. Schumer and his colleagues offer perhaps the last opportunity to avoid either war or an Iran with a nuclear weapons-capability. That Democrats and Republicans must do this against the president’s will is a testament to bipartisan responsibility and presidential cluelessness.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.