Friday, July 17, 2015

Quick Thinking

"In some recent remarks," Politico's Michael Crowley wrote Tuesday evening

Clinton has also hinted at a tougher view than the one that prevailed in Vienna, including her belief that Iran’s “breakout” period — the time it would take to enrich enough uranium for a bomb — should be longer than one year. Tuesday’s agreement imposes a breakout time of only one year.

Sixteen months ago, the Jerusalem Post had reported

While touting her role in wrestling Iran’s leaders to a point of weakness – the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 reflected this success, she asserted — Clinton nevertheless expressed caution that a comprehensive deal could be clinched in Vienna that would end the crisis.

“I personally am skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver,” Clinton said. “The progress of Iran’s nuclear program may be halted, but it is not dismantled.”

“If they choose to walk through an open door to a different future, we must be prepared to respond in kind,” she continued, “just as we must be prepared with firm resolve to refuse. The next months will be telling.”

The former Secretary of State was addressing a gathering of the American Jewish Committee, a group passionately devoted to the interests of Israel, including its continued existence as a Jewish state.  That also is the nation whose Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told the US Congress in March that the impending deal would be "a bad deal- a very bad deal" and who promptly after the agreement was announced termed it "a historic mistake."

Campaigning only ten days earlier, on Independence Day, Mrs. Clinton warned Iran remains "an existential threat" to Israel and asserted "even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran." Yet fewer than four hours after the President's statement, Mrs. Clinton- reputedly an ardent supporter of Israel- emerged from a meeting with congressional Democrats and publicly vowed support for the pact (video below).

In private, it appears, she was even more definitive.   "She was not equivocal in her support for the agreement as she understands it," Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia stated. The Hill noted "One House Democrat who spoke anonymously in order to discuss the private conversation, suggested Clinton's message to the Democrats carried stronger tones of support than her cautious public remarks."

That's not a flip-flop but awfully close to one for an individual who proclaimed her support for a 100+ page nuclear pact within four hours of hearing it had been negotiated.  A classic case of speed reading, it was eerily appropriate for an individual who believes there is no need for the American public to be informed of the details in, say, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clinton's instant enthusiasm for an Iran deal she is unlikely to have studied closely in a matter of a couple of hours may derive from wise political calculation.  Certainly, the Democratic base will support the deal; it was negotiated by the Obama Administration.   However, her stance likely goes deeper than that.

A little over two weeks ago, Ed Kilgore considered the outside possibility that Bernie Sanders will emerge as the Democratic presidential nominee. He noted that the Vermont Senator could upset Clinton in Iowa and/or New Hamsphire but

the complexion of Democratic primary voters after NH gets a whole lot less lily-white, and Sanders has no demonstrated appeal to minority voters, while HRC has quite a bit (the belief that minority voters are more ideologically left-bent than other Democrats is one of the great illusions of progressive politics, dashed again and again).  For one thing, you can be certain the current occupant of the White House, who has a pretty strong minority following, isn't going to stand by idly as Bernie Sanders moves toward the nomination.

There is no contract signed by President Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, it's likely there is an understanding, if not something stronger, between the two of them.  If Clinton's support in the black community slips, an endorsement from Barack Obama probably would be enough to staunch the bleeding.

It's not as though President Obama hasn't undermined the progressive community in several instances during his presidency, even as pertains to elections.  In 2013, New Jersey Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono had the temerity to run against incumbent governor Chris Christie in a state which had voted overwhelmingly twice for Barack Obama. Obama remained mum and relatively uninvolved. Nonetheless, he was photographed on two occasions with the right-wing governor, all the better for Christie to establish the bipartisan bona fides needed to increase his victory margin and his credibility with GOP elites looking to elect a president in 2016.

That's how President Obama rolls.  His promotion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast track should remind us that he frequently has taken the progressive wing of the party for granted, confident that the left never will abandon a president who has continually endured vicious attacks from the right. Some of the more extreme and intemperate complaints have had the scent of racial bias, which early in his presidency cemented Obama's support with the left.

The Iran deal may be a good one.  Nevertheless, it is unlikely Hillary Clinton knew that when she instantly endorsed the deal and even lobbied for it among Democratic legislators.  If, as probable, she has an arrangement with President Obama, it is a cynical move contemptuous of the Democratic base. But then, these are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton we're talking about.

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