Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) puts on a good show, and last week was the PM at his best. Netanyahu spoke very well at AIPAC but it was his speech in front of a joint session of Congress that was really spectacular. And not just because of what he said which was informative and inspiring. (Click here if you want to read the transcript, here to watch it). But also because of how he was welcomed, how the speech was received, and notably, how some Democratic members of Congress were so freaking mad about it.
The PM was welcomed like a rock star; it was incredible to watch him walk down the aisle toward the podium. It was like the State of the Union address with politicians on both sides of the center aisle stretching out to greet, and try and touch him.
Aside from expounding on some history, Netanyahu tore the Iran nuclear negotiations apart, shredding any logic of what was being offered in the talks. It was an incredibly eloquent indictment. And over one quarter of the PM’s speech consisted of applause and standing ovations, 10:55 of the 40:30 of the speech.
When it was over, some Democrats were downright apoplectic, and viciously insulted the PM. Much of it had to do, of course, with how the whole thing came about, and it could have, should have, been handled better. Some of it had to do with Netanyahu’s involvement in US affairs. But I think a good part of the fury was because Netanyahu was so effective in showing that when it came to Obama and Iran, the emperor had no clothes.
Contrary to claims that Netanyahu did not offer alternatives to Obama’s surrender to the Iranian mullahs, the PM, I thought, did outline a few good substitute propositions, such as seeing an Iranian behavior modification before giving away the store.
And as far as him saying nothing new? I disagree. Maybe not to those intimately involved in the talks or those passionately aware and concerned about Iran’ ambitions, but to the American public and to the world at large, much of it was plenty new. Letting everyone know that the agreement would allow the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism actually keep a well-stocked nuclear infrastructure and that restrictions could be lifted in ten years – very possibly leading to a further and rapid advancement of weaponization, was, I am sure, news to many.
I wonder if the Obama people now admit their decision to ferociously attack Netanyahu was incredibly stupid. Had Obama and his minions kept their criticism to a civil minimum, yes the address to Congress would have been an important occurrence, but it would not have been as big a deal, one that had even the sleepiest of bored Americans wake up and take notice of what their president was trying to do.
So did this help Bibi in his bid to remain Prime Minister with Israeli Parliamentary elections on March 17? Many have said that the speech was a political trick, an elaborate campaign commercial. If it was, the polls don’t really show it, for now. I say for now, because fairly consistently, although many if not most Israelis perhaps, are tired of BIbi and genuinely do not like him, most Israelis still feel he is more suited to be PM than any other party’s leader. And even though so many Israelis think he may be a small man in their own country, they may also feel, like it or not, that he comes across as a giant on the US and world stage, and in these dangerous times, that may be what is needed.
I am a speculating American of course and I may be completely wrong. And there are other issues with which Israelis are grappling, such as the cost of living and affordable housing. In any event, those who matter most and know what is best, Israeli voters, will make their judgment known shortly.
So let’s look to the future. What if Iran accepts Obama’s appeasement? And what if the president refuses to let the US Senate weigh in with a yea or a nay? Then somewhere between Iran’s acceptance and some kind of finalization perhaps in the early summer, after debate, a bi-partisan (Corker (R) –Menendez (D)) Senate bill – the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 which covers a review and sanctions, and/or another bill that would call for re-imposing and/or adding strict sanctions would be passed.
The bill would then go to the president’s desk and he will veto it. The Senate would need 67 votes to override the veto, and to keep his people in line, Obama and the Democratic leadership may have to resort to the kind of arm-twisting, threats and pork barrel giveaways we saw during the Obamacare bill lobbying effort.
And if you think these last few weeks were pretty rancorous, just wait. All 54 Republican Senators should support the override; that would mean they would have to peel away 13 in the minority. At this time, it looks like nine Democrats and Independents that caucus with the Democrats would support the bi-partisan bill(s) and very possibly the override. That makes it 64, only three senators away from handing the president a major defeat.
Unfortunately, as long as the agreement isn’t completely ridiculous, even though three senators are not a lot, if I had to bet, the veto gets upheld, Iran laughs, other Arab countries start building their own bombs, and Israel gets very, very serious about a military strike on Iran, maybe after Obama has finally, and thankfully, left office. But will it be soon enough to matter?