Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Obama has decided that two wildly unpopular policies, one foreign and one domestic, will be the final legacy of his wildly unpopular administration. The domestic policy is gun control. The foreign policy is Iranian nukes. While Americans will be disarmed, Iran will be getting ready for its ballistic missiles.
Ramming through wildly unpopular policies is what this administration does best. More than anything else, this administration will be remembered for the mix of bullying, smears, pop culture distractions, outright lies, bureaucratic sabotage and blatant lawbreaking with which it achieved its policy goals.
Iran is no different.
The sales pitch is going badly. John Kerry has probably managed to dissuade more senators by testifying than he would have if he had taken the fifth. A viral video featuring the Iran lobby’s Thomas Pickering lecturing failed movie star Jack Black on the importance of the deal earned all the wrong kind of laughs.
Too many Democrats are still sitting on the fence. Some have come out against the deal. So the White House is looking for weak points in a potential coalition against the deal.
Its opening move is a classical “Divide and Conquer” strategy that tries to split pro-Israel Democrats from Republicans. The Democrats are being told that a rejection of the deal means war with Iran. If they don’t back the deal, they will be warmongers. Those who oppose the deal with Iran will face the same anti-war coalition that targeted those Democrats who supported Bush’s overthrow of Saddam.
The deal is too unappealing to be sold on its merits, so it is instead being presented as the only alternative to a war. Obama and Kerry love nuance when it comes to finding all the positive sides to making deals with Iran or the Taliban, but quickly abandon it at home in favor of a polarized argument in which opponents of their latest terrorist appeasement are warmongers and traitors.
Jewish Democrats, in particular, are being told that Israel and Jews will be blamed for such a war.
John Kerry has already come out and said that Israel will be blamed. That’s nothing new for the Democratic Party. It wasn’t that long ago when Senator Hollings was claiming that Bush had invaded Iraq and passed tax cuts for the “Jewish vote”. To Jon Stewart, Obama referenced the Iraq War and suggested that the people against the deal “are not going to be making sacrifices” if there is a war.
That type of rhetoric sounded better coming from politicians who had served in the military, instead of a career community organizer who refers to a “Corpse-man” and uses Marines as umbrella stands.
Jewish Democrats who oppose the deal will be “Senator Lieberman-ed”, primaried by the left, smeared and added to the list of neo-con warmongers. Non-Jewish Democrats may be allowed a place at the table, like Kerry or Hillary, but only after they serve a penal term of appeasement as Secretary of State.
The Pollard release meanwhile begins the process of splitting Republicans from a pro-Israel coalition. The leverage is once again accusations of treason. Obama’s supporters showed where their argument was bound to end up when they spread the #47Traitors hashtag targeting Senators opposed to the deal.
Israel certainly hadn’t arranged for Pollard’s release. The administration isn’t being accommodating or trying to win over anyone. It’s calculatedly turning a former spy into a talking point during a debate involving Israel to add weight to the treason talking point.
Democrats who oppose the deal will be smeared as warmongers. Republicans who oppose it will be tarred as traitors.
Pollard’s shelf life as a talking point will be limited, but it won’t be hard to manufacture further scandals. An official here or there will be investigated for inappropriate contacts with Israeli officials or pro-Israel groups. The charges will fall apart on any real scrutiny, but the story will have achieved its results.
The last time the left wanted to kneecap pro-Israel opposition to Iran, it manufactured the Rosen-Weissman case targeting two AIPAC officials heavily involved in lobbying for sanctions on Iran. The case fell apart, but not before AIPAC offices had been raided and the media had written up a spy drama. But the real goal had been to link AIPAC to Feith, Wolfowitz and other Republican enemies of the left.
Now that the left controls the White House, it has even more leeway for its political witch hunts.
Reviving the Pollard case sends Republicans the message that national security and pro-Israel policies are a contradiction in terms. It also intimidates Jewish critics of the deal on both sides of the aisle. This is an administration that has used the IRS against its political opponents, including pro-Israel opponents like Z Street, and will not hesitate to use every arm of government against its domestic political enemies.
While the “Israel Lobby” is an incessant topic, the Iran lobby which, until Hagel’s resignation, controlled the offices of the Vice President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense is a black topic. Just about every critic is passed off as a pawn of an Israeli or Jewish organization, but mentioning that Secretary of State John Kerry has an Iranian son-in-law with reported connections to Iran’s Foreign Minister is off limits.
Obama welcomed in people like Charles W. Freeman, a Chinese state oil company board member and apologists for PRC atrocities from Tiananmen Square to Tibet, and Hamas fan Robert Malley, who wouldn’t have passed a security check to be dogcatchers in a dogless town. But now suddenly everyone else will be held to standards that Obama’s people don’t recognize or abide by for themselves.
The White House and its allies define any opposition as treason. Unwilling to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program, they are instead going nuclear on opponents of the deal. If they can split up the burgeoning coalition in Congress against the deal with accusations of treason, their own treasonous efforts to let Iran go nuclear and force the United States out of the Middle East will succeed.
And even if the tactic alone doesn’t win the day, it’s still an effective distraction.
ObamaCare was even more unpopular than the Iran deal, but Obama and his media allies kept up a barrage of distractions, attacks, smears and publicity stunts. Pollard is another way to swallow up airtime with a counter-topic while keeping opponents off balance. If Obama can’t sell the deal on its merits, he can always keep shifting the conversation to keep opponents on the defensive.
Selling the Iran deal on its merits has failed. It’s now being sold as the only alternative to war. Obama and Kerry had insisted, “No deal is better than a bad deal”, but now argue that their bad deal is better than no deal. And they demand that critics of their deal take responsibility for the alternative.
The entire line of argument is an admission that the deal is indefensible. The only possible defense of it is an attack on critics. Some of these attacks are crude. Others are subtle. Some attack directly, while others induce doubt, apathy and division.
Right now the biggest threat to Obama is the possibility that enough Democrats will join Republicans in shutting the deal down. If that happens, one of Obama’s sunset policy agendas will die. Coming off a defeat on Iran will leave him in poor shape for a fight over gun control. It will hand him a major defeat and finish off his unilateral foreign policy of signing treaties and starting wars without Congress.
Obama will do anything to protect his legacy. And the fight has only begun.