Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no problem bucking the White House on trade, reports tell us. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke publicly with the White House Wednesday on trade policy, instantly imperiling two major international trade deals and punching a hole in one piece of the economic agenda the president outlined in his State of the Union address a day earlier.” So why is it Reid is willing to humiliate the president on trade but do nothing to move on an Iran sanctions vote that has overwhelming, bipartisan support?
It sure puts to rest the notion that the “Israel lobby” controls Congress, contrary to the anti-Israel left and a number of New York Times columnists (but I repeat myself). For all the talk about the influence of groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other pro-Israel groups, they carry little weight with Reid when the chips are down on the biggest issue facing U.S.-Iran relations and Israel’s survival. Big labor, which favors protectionism, has the muscle that AIPAC lacks.
The reason for this is clear. While the country and Democratic members of the Senate and House strongly favor a tougher stance on Iran, the left-wing of the Democratic Party — the MoveOn.org types — long ago ceased to be pro-Israel. There is no upside for Reid — only downside in his mind — with his base in bucking the White House/Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) position on sanctions.
It is, you see, entirely unacceptable for a national Republican pol to be weak on Iran or equivocal when it comes to Israel. (That’s why Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to reassure the base on Israel.) By contrast, it is entirely optional for national Democrats to be tough on Iran. Obviously, it is no impediment to getting the presidential nomination or winning the White House, as we’ve learned in this administration.
It is a myth that Reid is protecting his vulnerable red-state Democrats. If that were the case, he would not only move on Iran sanctions, but also on Obamacare fixes demanded by vulnerable Democrats. No, Reid is firmly with the most liberal members of his caucus — anti-sanctions, pro-Obamacare, anti-free trade. This is yet another example of how dysfunctional the Senate is under his majority leadership and how much better off mainstream Democrats might be with a GOP majority. Perhaps Reid has adopted the adage of Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation that he’d rather have 30 true believers than a majority. That is swell for the true believers and the White House, but rotten for Dems running in purple and red states. And, it’s really rotten for Israel and the pro-Israel community.