Cardin On The Fence

Politico has a long article out today about Ben Cardin’s “will he or won’t he?” quandary on the Iran deal.

The exchange underscored Cardin’s quandary as Congress prepares to vote this month. A genial Jewish lawmaker from Baltimore, Cardin represents a mostly liberal state — but one that also includes a sizable Jewish population. He feels the push of a Senate caucus that overwhelmingly backs the Iran agreement — on Tuesday, two more Democratic senators, Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, came out in favor of it — and the pull of pro-Israel groups imploring him to reject it.

Only one more senator is needed to dash the GOP’s hopes of blocking the accord. But after the meeting, Cardin refused to say whether he’d be the decisive 34th vote to ensure that a resolution to kill the Iran deal would withstand a veto.

“This is not a clear decision,” said the second-term senator, who became the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking member this spring after Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a staunch critic of the pact, was indicted. “For those that say it’s a clear decision, I would take exception.”

While I like and respect Cardin in many ways, I am disappointed that he has hesitated for so long on this question. And while I understand that he is wary of the division in the Jewish community, I suspect that the divide is more ideological than just about this bill. And in the Democratic electorate, which is where he would face any meaningful challenge, he would be hailed by most Jews (including me) for doing the right thing and supporting his president. As the article noted, 33 (now 34 thanks to Cardin’s Maryland colleague Barbara Mikulski) Democratic senators support the deal, while only 2 (Schumer and Menendez) oppose it.

Bottom line: whichever way you look at it, this should not be that hard a call for Ben Cardin. 

BREAKING: Mikulski Puts Iran Deal Over The Top

Just flashed by the Post within the past few minutes:

Senate Democrats have rallied the 34 votes they need to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in Congress, handing President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote Wednesday morning, declaring the agreement is the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Congress is to vote later this month on a resolution disapproving the deal, which is unanimously opposed by Republicans, who call it a dangerous giveaway to Iran.

Obama has vowed to veto the resolution if it passes. It would take 34 votes to uphold his veto, and Democrats now have those in hand.

She hasn’t always been great on foreign policy issues, but good for her to come through with a crucial vote to push this deal across the finish line.

SixSeven more votes and the disapproval resolution never sees the light of day in the Senate. One of those sixseven really better be Ben Cardin.

Journalistic Malpractice

Early this morning (just before 1:00 a.m.), I posted video of Debbie Wasserman Schultz ruling “out of order” a motion at the DNC meeting in Mineapolis to put the DNC on record as supporting the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. I posted it at the time to highlight the rejection of a motion to expand the debate calendar, which was rejected at precisely the same time, as was a third, unrelated motion. But in that same 7:30 video DWS also rejects the Iran deal motion as well.

The video was from C-SPAN, but the 7:30 chunk that I linked to was posted to YouTube yesterday. A 40 second video, limited just to DWS’ comments on the debate schedule, was what originally attracted my attention. It was posted by a C-SPAN user to the C-SPAN site on Friday. So anyone who was paying attention knew by Friday night that there were three motions offered, and that DWS had rejected all of them. Anyone who was at the meeting certainly knew as well.

WordPress will only let me embed videos from a small number of sources, such as YouTube and Twitter and a few others I don’t generally look at. So I couldn’t embed the C-SPAN video. I went looking on YouTube and found the 7:30 version, which was posted yesterday. It covers DWS personally rejecting all three motions.

Yesterday, the Post published a story at 2:39 p.m. about DWS rejecting the Iran deal motion. The problem with the story is that it’s not really a story, as there was at least one video that makes the rejection clear, yet the Post is relying on “knowledgeable Democrats.” Very hush hush, very Woodward and Bernstein.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.

The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.

Why not just say “hey we were there, we saw it, here’s what happened and C-SPAN has the whole thing”? Did the Post have nobody at the meeting? All the candidates addressed the DNC on Friday, including Martin O’Malley’s blistering takedown of the debate schedule. Why the need to cite anonymous sources when the whole thing was there on video?

Even worse, despite failing to use the video, the Post actually went and asked the DNC about DWS’ role.

A party spokeswoman and said procedural issues prevented the proposed resolution from being considered. She did not directly address Wasserman Schultz’s role in the decision-making. Other Democrats said that it was congresswoman’s direct opposition that blocked its consideration.

“On the one hand, on the other hand.” There’s a video that clears it up. Of a public meeting. If you didn’t have someone there, that’s pathetic. If you did, you’d think that the DNC chair rejecting a motion to support a Democratic president’s most significant foreign policy achievement might be news? Something to remember? No?

Less then an hour later, the Hill followed up with a “story” which just parroted the Post version.

 Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz blocked consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting that would have praised President Obama and backed the his nuclear deal with Iran, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, has not yet publicly said what she thinks of the nuclear deal and how she intends to vote when Congress considers it in September.
A DNC spokesperson said procedural issues blocked consideration of the resolution at the Minneapolis meeting, according to the report. The spokeswoman didn’t address Wasserman Schultz’s role.

24 hours later, both stories remain intact, neither reference the video. Argh. Time to unlimber the Rant Machine.

I’m sorry, but what the hell are you doing calling the DNC? There’s a seven and a half minute video of DWS that shows precisely the role she played. She shot the motion down PERSONALLY. On VIDEO. That’s on the INTERNET. On freaking YOUTUBE. And presumably, you had one or more reporters ACTUALLY THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. And all you could do to try to update the story was CALL THE DNC AND ASK THEM WHAT HAPPENED? Hell, the Hill reporter could have come to my little blog anytime after 12:57 a.m. this morning and seen the video in all its glory.

Deep breath. Into a paper bag. OK, I’m good now. I feel much better.

Neither story is updated, it’s all still presented as if it happened in the dark of night when it actually occurred in a public session with video cameras. The correct storyline is “Here’s video of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz rejecting three motions from the floor, one on the Iran deal and one on the debate schedule.” Get some reactions from whoever your go-to folks are, and there’s the story. No unnamed sources, no DNC spokesman, just some actual evidence that makes the story real and allows readers to judge the story for themselves by watching the thing actually happen.

Is that too much to expect from two pillars of political journalism? Apparently so.

Schumer On Iran

Over the past several months, I’ve heard on several occasions that some position or action of a candidate or elected official should be “disqualifying.” I’m not a big fan of such blanket statements, but if I’m going to start, let’s go with “Chuck Schumer should not be the Democratic leader in the Senate for opposing the Iran deal.” Politico seems to be confident that this won’t happen - given their abysmal track record of such predictions, I remain hopeful that it’ll all work out for the best.

With liberal groups furious over his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Chuck Schumer has been quietly reaching out to dozens of his colleagues to explain his decision and assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal, according to Democratic senators and aides.

After news of his decision to vote “no” on the Iran agreement first leaked Thursday night, Schumer (D-N.Y.) has spoken to 20 to 30 fellow Democrats about why he will vote with the GOP leadership against the deal, sources said. Schumer had been planning to make these calls on Friday, before his position on Iran became public, but was not able to do so because it had leaked the night before.

Poor Chuck. His love for a video camera knows no bounds, so I’m having trouble generating much sympathy for him about his position having been leaked too soon.

Even worse is his lame justification for his position. 

The veteran lawmaker did reiterate his position on Iran during a news conference on Monday in Rochester, asserting that Obama should seek a “better deal” from the Iranian government before agreeing to loosen a sanction regime that has severely impacted the Iranian government. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry insist that position is unrealistic.

“Some say the only answer to this is war. I don’t believe so,” Schumer told reporters, reiterating some of the points he raised in a long statement released Thursday night. “I believe we should go back and try to get a better deal,” he added. “The nations of the world should join us in that.”

Just go back for a “do over”? Really, that’s your position? There is no support among our allies for further negotiations - what leverage do we have to get Iran to negotiate further? If we bail on this deal, then there’s no deal, the sanctions regime will die because nobody wants it any more, and Iran will end up stronger and with no nuclear oversight whatsoever. How is that a “better deal”? Schumer’s position is pathetic and naive. And he shouldn’t be the Senate leader next year either, because sometimes party loyalty matters, and this is one of those times.