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Actually, Obama turned out to be a great negotiator

Actually, Obama turned out to be a great negotiator

(with Congress)

It is not often that I feel compelled to defend President Obama. But in this case I will. The recent nuclear deal with Iran reveals that he is not a poor negotiator but rather an excellent one.

The President has been mocked for his negotiation skills throughout his tenure by the Left and the Right – from people ranging from Paul Krugman to Bob Woodward to Donald Trump. And interestingly the reasons both sides give for their assessment are as similar as they are contrary.

To the Left, Obama is simply too good to be good negotiator. He’s no mere politician, after all. He’s an ideologue! Too filled with idealism, too pure, too above the taint of politics to be talented at negotiation.

The Atlantic for example wrote in its 2011 piece “Why Obama Is So Bad At Negotiations” that “The truth is, that while the president’s idealism has made him a very poor negotiator, it is what attracted me and I suspect many others to him in the first place. His lack of cynicism and belief that we could tackle our problems together as one nation was unique, beautiful and stunning in our modern political system.”

Similarly, the Right argues that Obama is a poor negotiator because, again, he is an ideologue. As GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorna said on a recent appearance on Hannity “[Obama] has spent a lifetime in politics and ideology. That’s it. That’s his life. If you have no experience in negotiating you don’t negotiate very well. If you have no experience in problem-solving you don’t solve problems very well. If you have no experience in compromising you don’t compromise very well. What’s he good at? Giving a speech and sticking to his ideology.”

This perception of Obama as a poor negotiator has been tested by the recently announced Iranian nuclear deal.

obama laughs at the press

The Left has begrudgingly given the deal its approval because a) it’s Obama, b) use of force should almost never be on the table, c) the status quo was too hard to maintain, d) we’re not that fond of Israel anyway, and e) it’s Obama.

However, the deal, to the Right, and to many of our allies, is, as Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, an “historic mistake,” and has brought their criticisms of Obama’s negotiation talents to the forefront.

As details of the deal are released, it is easy to understand the Right’s position.

Iran was able to extract from our negotiations more than even they could have predicted. Iran not only gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure, it gets to improve upon them, as nuclear research and development programs continue unhindered. It will be receive billions – as much as $300 to $400 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation – in unfrozen assets and additional oil revenue. The arms embargoes against it will be removed after five years and ballistic missile limits will be lifted after eight. In return Iran has to concede nothing – not even its ties and sponsorship of terrorist groups, not its threat to eliminate Israel, not even a single American hostage. (One would think for $400 billion dollars Iran could have let at least one American go home to his family, but no.)

In short, this deal paves the way for Iran to become history’s greatest Islamic caliphate in perhaps a decade, unmolested by the United States. Assuming this deal stands, only a collapse in world oil prices or a vigorous pursuit of Iran’s regional rivals can alter such an outcome.

But is the Iranian nuclear deal emblematic of Obama’s inability to negotiate a deal favorable to the United States and its position as the world’s superpower? This presumes that it was Obama’s intention, and when has that ever been evident?

Obama Iran Your Video 2015

Certainly not at the United Nations in April of 2010 when the President complained that the United States remains a dominant military superpower “whether we like it or not”. Nor was it evident when the President complained to the same UN that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.”

Much of the negative reaction to the Iranian nuclear deal also presumes that Obama had a desire to prevent a Mullah ruled Iran from ascending. Again, when has this ever been evident?

In 2009, during the time of Iran’s so-called Green Revolution, when much of the West was hoping to seize the opportunity to aid in the overthrow of the Mullahs, our President seized the opportunity to write a secret letter to the Ayatollah Khamenei, calling “for an improvement in relations” between the two nations, and to seek “a resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.”

Furthermore, when had Obama showed any desire to maintain the sanctions against Iran? It was Obama, in fact, who stood in opposition to the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would have imposed new sanctions against Iran, even though two of its sponsors (Menendez and Schumer) are Democrats. It was also the President who defended Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program around this time. And it was the President, who as a candidate, legitimized the Mullah’s governance over Iran by signaling a willingness to met with them without any preconditions, a move Hillary Clinton at the time falsely characterized as dangerously naive.

It wasn’t from naivety that Obama took this position and the others. It was from a reflection of his very pro-Iranian worldview.

If President Obama was a poor negotiator, how then has he been able to outnegotiate the GOP and Congress at every turn?

This Iran deal is no exception.

Obama has already promised to veto any resolution threatening to hinder the deal, and he is in a great position to have such a veto hold, as he has skillfully outmaneuvered Congress, which had sought input into the negotiations with Iran, into passing the Corker-Menendez bill, which limits their ability to do so. As Mark Levin explained, because of Corker-Menendez, “Now we need a supermajority to override the president rather than a supermajority where the president needs approval for a treaty.”

In other words, President Obama does not need 67 votes to uphold the Iran deal. Thanks the Corker-Menendez, he only needs 34.

Poor negotiator, indeed.

Obama Press Conf Iran Deal end July 15 2015


This post was originally posted at African American Conservatives website.


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“If President Obama was a poor negotiator, how then has he been able to outnegotiate the GOP and Congress at every turn?”

He hasn’t out negotiated congress. They would have to try to negotiate with him before that could happen. Pre-emptive surrender does not count as negotiation.

a great negotiator….for ISI. (Islamic State of Iran.)

sjf_control | July 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm

He “out negotiated” congress because the republicans only know the “puppy” negotiating tactic. (Roll over on your back, and piddle all over yourself. Works every time!)

    Spiny Norman in reply to sjf_control. | July 17, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Yeah, it’s not so much that Obama is a “skilled negotiator”, it’s that Boehner and McConnell are far, far worse. They make him look good in comparison.


I’ll say it again; this is not a question of incompetence. One could not arrive here by incompetence alone.

We’ve seen Obama in his “community organizer” guise being a very tough “negotiator” when something matters to him. Indeed, so tough that it’s hard to see anything like a good-faith negotiation happening.

No. This is design at work. This is about the legacy thingy.

If President Obama was a poor negotiator, how then has he been able to outnegotiate the GOP and Congress at every turn?

The same way that the Iranian mullahs were able to out-negotiate Obama: when your opponent at the negotiating table bends over for you and agrees to give you everything you want, it’s pretty damn easy to come away from the negotiating table with . . . everything you want.

It doesn’t require any particular negotiating skill, just a craven and weak opponent. Luckily for the mullahs, they had the craven and weak Obama as their opponent. Luckily for Obama, he had the craven and weak Republicans as his.

ValJar has been the puppeteer directing these “negotiations” (read “capitulations”). John F’n Kerry has done every kneepad exercise to get that blessed Nobel Peace Prize regardless of cost to America and Israel. Worst POTUS ever – yes, worst Sec State ever? Strong run….

freedomsbell | July 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Obama Is worse than Chamberlain. Unfortunately Boehner and McConnell are worsest.

Please explain how Congress, absent the 2/3 veto-proof majority in House & Senate needed, could force Obama to submit the Iran deal for ratification as a treaty.

Remember, he said he would not do so before the current talks began two years ago, and he or his spokesmen have reiterated that position several times since.

So what was your plan? Shut down the government? (I suggest that since it seems to be some people’s answer for everything).

If you can’t answer the question, admit it.

    Voyager in reply to Estragon. | July 18, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    State for the record that absent the approval from Congress, the Treaty has no force of law, and vote penalties of companies and entities that violate the sanctions.

    Then attach the penalties to the votes necessary to continue various welfare, and rule that, as these are fines they count as reducing the budget, therefor only need a simple up or down vote to be passed.

inspectorudy | July 17, 2015 at 10:46 pm

“GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorna said on a recent appearance on Hannity “[Obama] has spent a lifetime in politics and ideology. That’s it. That’s his life. If you have no experience in negotiating you don’t negotiate very well. If you have no experience in problem-solving you don’t solve problems very well. If you have no experience in compromising you don’t compromise very well. What’s he good at? Giving a speech and sticking to his ideology.”
God! I love this woman. She has bigger balls than all of the men running combined. She reads obama and hillary like a comic book. If she doesn’t make the debates we are losers.

Obama’s a Muslim. There was no negotiating. He just gave his fellow Muslims what they wanted.

I can’t imagine a Leftist referring to Obama as an “ideologue”. That term is reserved for people the Left doesn’t like, who have principles and try to consistently uphold them.

It’s basically an anti-conservative smear.

Obama was always a mack-daddy, a player of players. No bout a doubt it.

Obama does not need 34 votes in the Senate to get this deal done. Instead he is going to make an end run around Congress who are scheduled the start of discussion about how to craft a bill to stop this deal on July 23 by going to the UN on July 20 and have the UN rubber stamp the it. By the time Congress votes, the UN will already have passed the deal, sanctions will have been withdrawn, and Iran will be happily pumping out oil like never before while it ramps up its terrorist activities. This deal all but guarantees war in our near future.

    FrankNatoli in reply to Cleetus. | July 18, 2015 at 11:38 am

    United Nations decisions do not overturn the Constitution. Failure of the President to submit the treaty to the Senate leaves the “agreement” null and void.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | July 18, 2015 at 9:15 am

Allahpundit at Hot Air has it right:

>> He’s crushed Congress at every turn — first in refusing to submit this deal to the Senate as a treaty, as the Constitution requires, then in negotiating that horrible deal with Bob Corker that would let the Senate effectively ratify the deal with just 34 votes, and now by ignoring Congress’s authority in the text of the final agreement itself and moving quickly to get this passed in the Security Council before Congress has even considered it. In a saner world, where the American public gave a wet fart about ridiculous power grabs by the executive, the House would be threatening him credibly with impeachment at this point. Instead they’re gearing up for another performance of failure theater, where the Senate pretends to try really hard to stop Obama and almost musters the votes needed to do so, but falls just a bit short. The whole thing is a simulacrum of democracy, designed to put Shiite fanatics on track to build a nuclear weapon in 10 years because rapprochement with Iran will look really cool on Obama’s and Kerry’s CVs. <<

I'd like to say that Obama usurped Congress's authority to negotiate treaties but I'm not sure usurpation is what happened. What happened is that Congress under Corker's leadership negotiated away their constitutional authority to approve the treaty, and Obama effectively assumed that authority. It seems to me that both Congress and Obama acted unconstitutionally and lawlessly.

    FrankNatoli in reply to MaggotAtBroadAndWall. | July 18, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Nobody can legislate away Constitutional authority. When the Gingrich Republican Congress gave Democrat President Bill Clinton a line item veto, the Supreme Court found that unconstitutional, because, as I said, nobody can legislate away Constitutional authority. What Corker did had nothing to do with the law. It’s total bravo sierra.

“Berlin insisted on unprecedentedly intrusive economic supervision of Greece”

In other words, Berlin was more careful to make sure its loans to Greece get repaid than Washington made sure Iran isn’t developing a bomb.

Thank you, Democrat voters!

bobinreverse | July 18, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Realize that smart people like to argue stuff and sound real intelligent. People on here are super knowledgeable. But it’s time to get real.

Obama hates US that is now. As well as Israel. He wants iran to get nukes, blow up israel, smuggle nukes into US, and then use nukes or threat of nukes along with race riots to bring whitey to his knees

Again if the people on here don’t understand this how can the fool General public?

Sammy Finkelman | July 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm

If President Obama was a poor negotiator, how then has he been able to outnegotiate the GOP and Congress at every turn?

He is a poor negotiator when the people he is dealing with lie to him.

The Iranians and some of the P5+1 lied to Obama. The Republicans in Congress did not.

The Iranians and Russia, by what they said they would do,m and by what they said they wanted, and by not arguing against Obama’s real red line, which was that Iran was not supposed to get closer to a nuclear bomb this way, but that U.S should not try for anything more, half forced him into this as the best of all possible outcomes.