Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
It was his birthday and Obama was grouchy.
“It’s my birthday and I’m going to be blunt,” Obama told the Jewish leaders meeting with him. When they complained that, “Words have consequences, and when they come from official sources, they can be even more dangerous,” he was unapologetic.
“If you guys would back down, I would back down from some of the things I’m doing,” he warned.
By that he meant that if they stopped objecting to the Iran deal, he would stop accusing critics of his nuclear sellout to Iran of being money-grubbing warmongers.
Obama complained, “It's been a really busy day. You'd think they'd be nicer to me on my birthday.”
His busy day had consisted of a meeting with the ineffectual UN Secretary General, lunch with Biden and a photo op in the East Room. But he also had reservations at Rose’s Luxury, an expensive Capitol Hill restaurant where ordinary people wait for hours to get in.
Rose’s doesn’t take reservations, but Obama was an exception.
Shortly after his meeting with Jewish leaders, he and his close Iranian-born adviser Valerie Jarrett skipped the line at Rose’s and got the party started. On the next day, Obama blasted Republican opponents as treasonous allies of those who chant “Death to America,” even though he was the one who had actually made common cause with Iran’s regime.
The day after that, Senator Schumer called Obama to tell him he would oppose the deal and asked him to let him announce it on Friday. The White House instead leaked it to the Huffington Post. The first response to Schumer’s announcement came from MoveOn, which blew the dog whistle loudly enough to be heard in the next state over, “Our country doesn’t need another Joe Lieberman in the Senate.”
The only obvious thing that both politicians had in common was that they were Jewish.
Obama had lost the argument on the facts. The majority of Americans opposed the deal by 52 to 28 percent. Even among Democrats, support stood at only 52 percent.
His game plan for winning the debate was to get as ugly and dirty as possible.
Despite having just gotten back into Iraq, after contemplating an attack on Syria and coming off an illegal assault on Libya, any Democrat opposing him risked being accused of wanting another Iraq War. Or as White House press secretary Josh Earnest coyly put it, "This difference of opinion that emerged overnight is one that has existed between Senator Schumer and President Obama for over a decade."
Obama allies emphasized that Schumer had voted for the Iraq War. Obama was once again rerunning his old campaign against Biden and Hillary, even though one was his VP and the other his successor.
Barack Obama had already rolled out the “lonely little guy in the White House” playbook complaining about lobbies and money. He had been irked at his representatives not getting full access to the AIPAC activists who were visiting members of Congress and was reading from Bush I’s old script. But now he began to sound more like Pat Buchanan ranting about Israel’s “amen corner” beating the drums for war.
Having forgotten the time he sent his campaign consultants to defeat Netanyahu in the Israeli election, he complained that Netanyahu was inappropriately interfering. During his speech, he rediscovered a love for the Constitution which he claimed obligated him to sideline Israel. Sadly he lacked the same love for the Constitution’s Treaty Clause which requires two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty.
The complaints about lobbies and money sounded strange coming from a guy who had his own SuperPAC with tens of millions of dollars to spend. Behind him was a network of organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash on hand and billionaire donors to donate on demand.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund had invested a fortune into the project. Some of the money went into the Ploughshares Fund, which did its own promotion for the deal, and funneled cash to Global Zero, which released a video promoting the deal featuring Jack Black and Morgan Freeman. His position was backed by George Soros’ J Street, an astroturfed anti-Israel group that was bringing serious money to the party.
Once Schumer came out on the deal, he was targeted by Credo Mobile and MoveOn, among other powerful left-wing groups, determined that nothing would be allowed to interfere with Iran’s nukes.
There was no shortage of lobbies and money in Obama’s corner. The citizen activists opposed to the deal might have the support of the American people, but they were outmatched by the massive wealth and infrastructure of the Democracy Alliance and Obama’s mainstream media allies.
The teachers, mothers, engineers and small businessmen could travel to Washington D.C. and complain to their Congressman. Obama could go on the Daily Show and complain about them to Jon Stewart.
There was no comparing their respective power.
And all that was without mentioning the Iran Lobby which boasted close relationships with Joe Biden and John Kerry.
Obama continued to escalate tensions with the Jewish community, even though he faced no real risk that enough Democrats would come together to override his veto. Even Schumer’s rejection had bent over backward to praise and flatter him. The American people might disapprove of the deal, but they had also disapproved of ObamaCare and his illegal war in Libya. And he had just rolled over them.
The administration wasn’t in this fight because it worried that it might lose. Between the GOP establishment and Obama, the game had already been rigged. Everyone, including Schumer, would play their parts, get their applause and the agreement would move forward. Hundreds of AIPAC members lobbying a few members of Congress wouldn’t stop that. Neither would a few ads.
Even in the extremely unlikely circumstance that enough Democrats would come together to veto the deal, Obama had already told the agreement’s leading Democratic opponent in the House, “If Congress overrides my veto, you do not get a U.S. foreign policy that reflects that vote. What you get is you pass this law and I, as president, will do everything possible to go in the other direction.”
Obama would implement the deal no matter what Congress did. Iran would get its nukes.
But for Obama, scowling and impatiently tapping his fingers while waiting to go for his birthday dinner, musing that he could have already been there if it wasn’t for these old white men whining to him, looking forward to his round of golf and a trip to Camp David, it had become petulantly personal.
For the left, the political is often indistinguishable from the personal, and for Obama it has always been that way. Obama’s view of government is Louis XIV’s “I am the State”. All opposition is personal. All dissent is treason. Enemies have to be punished on the principle of the thing.
It didn’t matter that the Jewish leaders had zero chance of actually stopping his agreement with Iran. Most of them didn’t even want to be there. What mattered was that they had opposed him and they had to be punished for it.
Obama had compared Americans uneasy about Iran’s “Death to America” slogan to schoolyard bullies who wanted to “smack around” the “little guy” who dared to “mouth off.” But he was the one playing the bully, going out of his way to sow tension, using rhetoric condemned even by Jewish supporters of the deal, not because he needed it to win, but because he was angry and resentful.
Millions of Jews around the world saw the specter of an atomic cloud rising into the sky, but Obama had a birthday meal at Rose’s Luxury to go to, a round of golf to play and his feelings were being hurt and his birthday was being ruined by these annoying Jews who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.
Obama isn’t even stirring up anti-Semitism to defend the Iran deal. He’s lashing out, accusing critics of being traitors and warmongers, because they ruined his birthday party.