Friday, August 14, 2015

Last Call For Ground Chuck

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall makes the case that Sen. Chuck Schumer's opposition to President Obama's Iran nuclear deal disqualifies him as successor to Sen. Harry Reid as leader of the Democrats in the upper chamber.

I say all this with some regret since I’ve always liked Schumer. And I should make clear that I see fidelity to a President of one’s own party - even on an issue central to his presidency - as a non-issue in this case. The issue is that this agreement is a matter of grave importance. And Schumer’s position is wrong. Indeed, what makes it an issue for me is that it is more than wrong. His stated arguments are simply nonsensical and obviously tendentious. In this case, Schumer’s ample brain power stands as an indictment against him. There are plenty of senators who are voting against this deal because of a combination of bellicosity and partisan fervor. And there are a good number of them who either cannot or do not care to apply a real logical analysis of the question at hand. Let’s put that more bluntly, they’re either lazy or dumb. And of course this general point applies to senators on both sides of the aisle. 
But Schumer is neither lazy nor dumb. And that’s why his decision is really unforgivable. 
He argues for instance that even if even if the agreement keeps Iran from building nuclear warheads for a decade (false time frame, by the way), this deal makes things worse because the nuclear Iran ten years from now will be a supercharged Iran made more powerful and bold by sanctions relief. 
This is a stupid argument. 
North Korea remains under strangling sanctions and barely has an economy at all. That has not prevented it from building a robust nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. Especially if you believe that Iran wants nuclear weapon for doomsday purposes, getting nuclear weapons with a more vibrant economy 10 years from now hardly makes a difference. And, yes, as long as we’re on the point, the ten year time frame is bogus. 
Schumer also calls the 24 days canard “troubling”. Again, here Schumer’s own smarts indicts him. He’s not that dumb. We shouldn’t accept Fox News arguments as legitimate points of argument from someone who aspires to be Senate Majority Leader
Finally he notes that the deal only makes sense if you believe that Iran will become more moderate and less belligerent under the deal. Again, a bad faith argument. 
I think there are actually good reasons to think the consequences of the deal may lead to that outcome. To at least grant that this is a possibility one need only look at the fact that the Iranian reformers we allegedly love are all for it and the hardliners in the regime are all against it. But the deal is actually more important if you have the most dire read of the regime and its future. If you do think the worst, is it better to put in place what is unquestionably the most rigorous inspections and surveillance regime ever devised or leave the Iranians entirely free to start building nuclear weapons immediately? The answer to this question is so blindingly obvious it really ends the debate.

Marshall continues shredding Schumer's arguments al length in the second half of his piece, but that last sentence is the heart of the argument.  If Schumer is going to be this blatant about putting his own neck ahead of the fate of his party, then he does not deserve to be a leader in his party.

So no, I don't believe that Chuck Schumer should be the leader of the Dems after Harry Reid retires. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin immediately comes to mind as someone who should get the job (if Barb Mikulski wasn't retiring after 30 years.) But as Marshall says, Schumer has disqualified himself totally at this point.

If he will do this to save his neck now, when he is leader, he will sell out the country to benefit himself.  Senate Dems should take note.

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