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Iran Nuke Deal – Chuck Schumer’s time for choosing (UPDATE – Schumer AGAINST Deal)

Iran Nuke Deal – Chuck Schumer’s time for choosing (UPDATE – Schumer AGAINST Deal)

Obama loyalist to the bitter end?

Senator Charles (“Chuck”) Schumer of New York faces a particularly tough choice: back Obama’s Iran deal and anger many of his New York Jewish constituents, or oppose the deal and anger Obama and much of the Democratic Party leadership.

My prediction: Schumer will cave to Obama and cling to his own long-nourished hopes of one day succeeding Harry Reid. Or he will take the weaselly option mentioned here, voting to override Obama’s veto of a Congressional bill to continue sanctions but being careful to not bring along enough people with him to make an override stick. Schumer, as the probable heir apparent to Reid’s position, seems to have quite a bit of influence over his fellow Democratic senators who are likewise hesitating, and therefore his vote is considered a sort of bellweather or linchpin.

As for the vote itself, here’s a good discussion of the “is the Iran deal a treaty or not?” question, from back in March:

There is no currently no suit on the issue [of its being a treaty] being discussed on Capitol Hill, and it’s far from clear that Republicans would be standing on firm legal ground with such a challenge. The debate, rumbling for decades, has yet to be definitively resolved in case law.

“It is a very interesting question,” said Nicholas Burns, a former senior U.S. diplomat, arguing that it is essentially up to the administration to decide whether it is negotiating an agreement that formally binds the United States to commitments under international law; i.e., a treaty, or a less stringent arrangement.

“Interesting question” indeed. It seems obvious that whether an agreement is a treaty or not should not be left solely to the discretion of a president, because that would make the treaty power of the Senate a joke. Surely the Senate’s advise and consent power wasn’t meant to just be a rubber stamp?

From that same article:

Biden argued Monday [back in March] that this practice is as old as the United States itself.

“Under presidents of both parties, such major shifts in American foreign policy as diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China, the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis, and the conclusion of the Vietnam War were all conducted without congressional approval,” he said in his statement opposing the GOP letter.

But were these so-called “major shifts” disapproved of by a majority of the Senate at the time they happened? No [and see the “NOTE” below about Nixon and China and the differences between that and Obama’s Iran deal]. Were they disapproved of in a bipartisan manner by every single member of the opposition party, plus a significant number of members of the president’s own party? No again. Any previous president who had thought to do anything like what Obama is doing in opposition to Congress would have feared losing his own party members, and even perhaps risked impeachment and conviction. Obama has tested his party and has no such fears.

So, besides Schumer (who actually may have made up his mind already and only be pretending to waver), how many Democrats are wavering over their vote on the deal? I don’t think there will be enough to override, and here is the sort of unicorn mentality we are dealing with in some of them:

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., called voting for the Iran nuclear deal “the most important decision we may ever make in our lifetime,” and tantamount to “averting nuclear war.”

“I grew up in the ’60s, and what got me into politics was ‘give peace a chance, avoid war,’” Farr told reporters. “For the first time in my life, instead of voting on whether we’re gonna invade Iraq or not invade Iraq, or invade this or invade that, or Bosnia, or whatever, for the first time in my life we have a chance to vote on something that will avoid war. And that’s so fundamental, so historical. I can’t see why anybody in their right mind wouldn’t support this.”

It seems likely that although there’s been a lot of blah blah blah among Democrats about how they have reservations about the deal, it’s just to show they’re not Obama’s puppets and to imply that they are being really really contemplative. But in the end they will not oppose Obama or their leaders. Remember all the wavering on Obamacare before it was passed? When push came to shove some people were allowed to vote against it to protect themselves if they came from red or purple areas, but the number of such allowances was carefully imited in order to assure there would be just enough votes to pass Obamacare.

You can bet there will be a great many twisted or even broken arms among Democrats on Capital Hill before this is through.

As for Schumer himself, this Politico piece says he’s still undecided and may vote against Obama, while this from Michael Goodwin in the NY Post says that Schumer’s loyalty as a party man with lots of ambition will overshadow any lingering inclination to be an Israel hawk.

I’m with Goodwin. As I wrote earlier, however, the only way I believe that Schumer would vote against Obama is if he makes sure there are enough votes for Obama to carry the day.

[NOTE: Nixon’s trip to China is not a good analogy with Obama re Iran, although the left is very fond of making it. Among other things, Nixon’s well-known history of anti-Communism defused criticism to a large extent, but Obama has no such hardline history on Iran. Au contraire.

Nixon faced very little criticism from either party in a Democratic-dominated Senate (it was 54/44 D/R and the House was 255 to 180).

This rather obscure piece is the only article I’ve found online so far that deals in any detail with the amount of Congressional or popular opposition Nixon faced. Basically, any serious opposition was limited to William Loeb, who had been the editor of the very conservative Manchester Union Leader, and just a few others. Similarly, the MSM was almost universally approving and optimistic about his overtures, as was most of the public. Taiwan was understandably negative about the US rapprochement with China, but that seemed a minor problem on the US domestic scene.

But the huge differences between Nixon/China and Obama/Iran are hardly limited to the differences in US public opinion, although that’s important. There were large substantive and strategic differences as well. Also important was the fact that Nixon was not negotiating a nuclear arms deal, but rather beginning diplomatic relations and opening trade, a far less controversial process (although at this point we see that it has had major repercussions, some of them negative for the US). But China already was a nuclear power at the time of Nixon’s trip, and had been for several years.]

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

UPDATE By WAJ 9 p.m.:


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Nixon was also driving a wedge between two nuclear Communist powers, which was very much in American interests.

He was not…and would not have dreamed of…paving the way for a new nuclear regional hegemon and implacable American foe, as Barracula has done.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). The problem here is that none of the Senators represent their states. They represent their party. They are democrats or republicans that got elected by some people in some state, but their main allegiance is to their party.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Anchovy. | August 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    They only “represent” their own bank accounts!

    For once I’d like to meet a politician who had his hands in his own pockets.

    Ragspierre in reply to Anchovy. | August 6, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    If only there was some way to plausibly threaten him with never having a TV camera in the same place with him ever, ever again unless he vigorously opposed Barracula’s Mad Deal…

Let’s see if this sleazeball votes to lay the groundwork for a nuclear attack on his idiot constituents in NYC.

Juba Doobai! | August 6, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Man, I didn’t raise that Chuckie the Cereal Killer Schumer had such a long nose. With that nose, Chuckie can sniff out anything except Obama’s rabid Jew-hatred.

“for the first time in my life we have a chance to vote on something that will avoid war

And if YOU are WRONG Sam, then what?

It seems obvious that whether an agreement is a treaty or not should not be left solely to the discretion of a president, because that would make the treaty power of the Senate a joke. Surely the Senate’s advise and consent power wasn’t meant to just be a rubber stamp?

You’re not making any sense. It’s obvious that it is solely up to the president whether to submit an agreement to the senate as a treaty. The senate’s treaty power is to either consent to the treaty or not. If he never submits it, then there’s nothing to consent to.

Here’s the key point, which you seem to be completely missing: There is no difference between an agreement that was never submitted, and one that was submitted and rejected. You seem to imagine there is some difference, and that is where you are wrong.

Surely the Senate’s advise and consent power wasn’t meant to just be a rubber stamp?

The “advise” part has been non-operative for well over two centuries. President George Washington found that he couldn’t conduct negotiations with the representatives of European powers because, while the Old World was in the habit of conducting such things secretly, Washington found out quickly enough that anything he shared with the Senate was in the newspapers the next day. If he wanted to conduct any negotiations at all, he would have to end such leaks. Rather than try to hobble the press, he solved the problem by keeping senators in the dark about the details of treaty negotiations until they were completed, and even then confined “discussion” to submittal of a text for vote. Perhaps because senators themselves realized that they leaked like sieves, and also realized that useful treaties with foreign powers were not mere luxuries, the Senate as a body seems to have made no serious attempt to fight the President’s procedural and legal innovation.

In short, Washington killed the “advise” function by ignoring it, with the practical collusion of the Senate. He did not kill the “consent” part. Of course for succeeding Presidents, what Washington had found expedient became frozen as custom and precedent.