When the White House is going to great lengths to stop sanctions legislation, its own rhetoric and Iran’s behavior are making it difficult to convince lawmakers everything is just fine.
A Democratic source on the Hill closely following the debate e-mails: “When administration announced the ‘interim deal’ [in] Geneva, they initially refused to release the text . . . until Iran leaked it, and in fact it turned out there [were] significant differences between the way they were describing it and what it allowed Iran to continue doing. Then it became clear there was no deal and the 6 month timeline was a farce.” He continues, “Now, months later, there is another agreement the text of which is hidden. It appears that questions people are asking on the Hill have as much to do with a lack of trust in the White House . . . as the skepticism about Iran.”
The White House is making it worse. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a pro-Israel congressman who dutifully held off on a sanctions resolution late last year at the administration’s insistence, lashed out at a press conference: “There have been some that have suggested in the White House that those folks were more interested in war than they were in the resolution by peaceful means. I think that is absolutely untrue, [an] irresponsible assertion and ought to be clarified and retracted by those who have made it within the administration. Nobody believes, as far as I know, that going to war with Iran is anything but a dangerous objective that none of us would seek.” (Actually, the president has been making such comments, accusing everyone in favor of sanctions as acting politically and risking war.) Hoyer’s unusually blunt rebuke is indicative of the frustration on both sides of the aisle with a White House that seems more concerned with burnishing Iran’s image than with gathering all the leverage it can to force Iran to give up its weapons.
The president, sounding like a 1960s hippie, says he wants to “give peace” a chance. He should tell that to Iran. Noah Pollak, executive directive of the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel, observes that the Iranians are poking their finger in Obama’s eye: “Iranian officials are taking a victory lap. [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani boasts on Twitter that the ‘world powers surrendered’ to Iran. The chief nuclear negotiator issued this concise summary of the Geneva deal: ‘No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded. All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.’” Even worse, Iran has upped the ante on its support of terrorist groups and is negotiating with Russia a way around oil sanctions, knowing full well President Obama will do nothing to stop them or risk the interim deal. The Iranians don’t yet have the bomb, but we are already showing no stomach for containment.
There is a certain amount of chuckling regarding a Jerusalem Post piece: “Confirming the suspicions of many, the United States has been secretly run by a shadow government of German Nazi space aliens since 1945, Fars News Agency, Iran’s semi-official news agency, reported on Sunday. In a dramatic scoop, Fars — in all seriousness — reported that revelations of mass [National Security Agency] surveillance made public by Edward Snowden were actually an effort by the American-Nazi extraterrestrials to hide their nature to a human world they hoped to dominate.” You can laugh, but the notion that Iran’s leaders are reasonable, responsible men is as ludicrous, well, as a space alien coverup.
It is to be expected then that Congress has little patience and no desire to defer to this White House. As the Capitol Hill Dem told me, “No one except the White House seems to trust Iran, and increasingly few people trust this White House.” Meanwhile, as Obama insults Congress and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stalls on a sanctions vote, those centrifuges in Tehran keep spinning.