This week, Congress, fresh off its August recess, debated a resolution expressing disapproval of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with regard to Iran’s nuclear program. And while the resolution is unlikely to make it past Friday’s cloture vote in the Senate, the deal’s opponents are by no means about to wave the white flag of surrender. Not yet anyway.
On Tuesday morning, at the American Enterprise Institute, DC’s temple of neoconservatism, the 46th vice president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney, laid out his rather, well, less-than-compelling case against the Iran deal.
Speaking before an adoring audience of neocon apparatchiks, Cheney’s speech was largely overshadowed by the the contemptible temper tantrum thrown by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Patrick Clawson.
That same evening an overflow crowd of beltway insiders gathered at the Brookings Institution to see Iran deal opponents John McCain and Leon Wieseltier debate Brooking scholars Bruce Reidel and Suzanne Mahoney on the merits of the deal.
McCain was in typical ill-humor, while Wieseltier rattled off a series of Yoda-like epigrams to the increasingly puzzled audience. If one liners like “a respite from a problem is not a release from a problem”; “the deal is a change in degree, not a change in kind”; “we get a Band-Aid, they get a banquet”; and “we all sit wherever we sit” were designed to win over the wonkish crowd, then they signally failed to do so. McCain and Wieseltier went down in defeat, with the crowd voting overwhelmingly to support the deal.
The next day, Wednesday, Brookings played host yet again, this time to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who delivered a speech which was the definition of “Clintonesque.” Her knack for triangulating was on full display, with Clinton announcing her support for the deal while also rattling off a series of hawkish talking points designed to show that she too loves Israel very, very much. Her speech was obviously not intended to win over the Democratic Party’s progressive primary base but rather was intended to reassure the donor class that she has zero intention of ever calling Israel to account for any of its own egregious, destabilizing behavior.
And Israel was much on the minds of the speakers and attendees of Wednesday afternoon’s anti-Iran deal rally on Capitol Hill. Sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots organization, the rally seemed to attract fringe right-wing elements, rabid pro-Zionists, and your average Obama-hater, though, thankfully, not too many of them.