Congress has 60 days to review the Iran deal, and President Obama has launched an all-out effort to persuade Senators and Representatives — or, at least, Democrats, anyway — to back the agreement. The general consensus this morning is that it remains uncertain whether Dems will support the deal in large enough numbers to sustain Obama’s veto of a vote disapproving the deal, though it still looks likely that at least one-third of one chamber will stick with the president.
What’s driving the calculations of Democrats? Some are raising tough and legitimate questions about whether the deal’s inspection regime has been unduly watered down in the quest for an agreement. Others will likely press the administration to address worries about Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state down the line.
But the Wall Street Journal has the most candid explanation I’ve seen that hints at the political considerations that may be driving some of the deliberations:
Democrats said they were weighing the risks of spurning a deal painstakingly reached against embracing an agreement with an outcome that is ultimately unclear.
“The risk of voting for it is that if the Iranians cheat and somehow achieve a path to a bomb in spite of the agreement, then you look like you signed on to something that wasn’t effective,” said Sen. Angus King (I., Maine).
I’ve heard versions of this voiced privately by Dems: if Iran cheats on the deal, won’t that rebound badly on supporters? Won’t they look gullible and weak? It’s unclear as of yet how widespread this worry is, but it’s something to watch for.
Yes, supporting a deal might carry substantive and political risks, if the consequences of a deal go awry. But there are risks in opposing the deal, too. If Congress does scuttle it, that, too, would likely have a whole different set of unpleasant consequences. Senator King, who caucuses with Dems, went on to acknowledge this:
Conversely, the risk of rejecting the deal is that it scuttles the international agreement, unraveling the sanctions and leaving Iran’s nuclear ambitions unchecked, he said. “There are risks in both directions.”
That would presumably carry political risks, too. As I noted here yesterday, Republicans may come to realize that opposing the deal is a wee bit problematic, since they might end up owning the consequences that could unfold if Congress blocks the deal. One hopes Dems will factor into their thinking that if they help scuttle the deal, they, too, would be responsible for — and would own — those consequences.
* CHUCK SCHUMER’S DILEMMA ON IRAN: The Hill takes a look at the dilemma Chuck Schumer faces as he decides whether to support the deal with Iran: He’s trapped between the Obama administration and liberal Democrats on one side, and “pro-Israel” groups that oppose the deal on the other. Interestingly, some opponents of the accord appear to be taking it for granted that Schumer will oppose it. I’d say that’s premature.
Schumer’s decision could be hugely consequential: if he supports it, that would give many Dems worried about the politics of Iran cover to go along. If he opposes it, a lot will depend on how aggressively he criticizes its particulars.
* GOP OPPOSITION TO IRAN DEAL NOT A BIG SURPRISE: The Associated Press states flat out what many news outlets are dancing around: Most, if not all, Republican lawmakers were all but certain to oppose the Iran deal no matter what was in it:
Republicans fall into two camps when it comes to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Some are against it, while others want to read it before announcing their opposition.
In most quarters, this is considered so par-for-the-course that it’s barely worth mentioning even in passing. The question is, how much of this is driven by a genuine, principled dispute with Obama and Dems over how or whether to engage adversaries?
* THE IDEAS UNDERLYING GOP OPPOSITION TO IRAN DEAL: E.J. Dionne has a good column explaining that the battle over the Iran deal reflects a larger dispute over the proper American posture towards our adversaries. The basic differences are over questions such as these:
Are negotiated deals ever to be trusted? Should the United States be influenced by its allies’ wishes? Are imperfect compromises ever acceptable? Is hope that a hostile regime might gradually transform itself always wishful thinking? Is avoiding war a legitimate goal, or is every negotiation a repetition of Munich and every promise of “peace in our time” shortsighted?
With the GOP candidates digging in against the deal, these questions will form the basis for a broad contrast that will help define the 2016 race, a contrast that Dems should lean into.
* HILLARY’S FUNDRAISING HAUL DRIVEN BY WOMEN: Hillary Clinton has announced raising $47 million during her first two-and-a-half months as a presidential candidate, and Matea Gold ferrets out this interesting nugget:
Of the more the 250,000 contributors who donated to Clinton, 61 percent are women. That puts her on track to outstrip the presidential high-water mark set by President Obama in 2012, when 47 percent of donors who gave him more than $200 were women.
This money is mostly for the primary, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the trend holds when the general election fundraising begins in earnest.
* HILLARY’S NUMBERS DROP: A new Associated Press poll finds:
Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her. That’s an eight-point increase in her unfavorable rating from an AP-GfK poll conducted at the end of April. The drop in Clinton’s numbers extends into the Democratic Party. Seven in 10 Democrats gave Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from the April survey.
You’ll be shocked to hear that these numbers are generating more attention than yesterday’s Washington Post numbers showing her favorability numbers up to 52-45.
* AND GET READY FOR A JEB-VERSUS-TRUMP SMACKDOWN: Politico reports that many Republicans are anticipating that Jeb Bush and Donald Trump will have a grand showdown over immigration at the upcoming GOP debate. This is funny:
As the Aug. 6 debate grows closer, some Republicans are relishing the prospect of Trump tearing the bark off the former governor — or, at the very least, trying to trip him up. “Trump has one target and one target only,” said an adviser to a rival GOP candidate. “He’s going to bring a lawn mower for Bush.”
Hiding behind Trump as he does the dirty work of tarring Jeb as insufficiently hostile to Latinos! Brave!