The Republican demand for a Congressional vote on any nuclear deal with Iran could come back and bite them on election day.
In the intensely polarized political atmosphere engulfing Washington these days, it is unlikely Republicans would approve anything Barack Obama negotiated, even if it was a total unconditional Iranian surrender.
The Congress can hold hearings about on executive agreement with Iran, but unlike a treaty, it does not require Senate approval.
With Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell in the fight for his political life in Kentucky, and his staunchly anti-Obama record his campaign theme, he can be expected to pull out all the stops to block any deal Obama makes with the Iranians, regardless of content or quality.
He will argue that it is less than demanded in prior congressional legislation and far from ideal, and he will be right, but this is about more than making the good the enemy of the perfect. He and the GOP want to declare this to be another Obama foreign policy failure. And he will have the full-throated support of the party’s powerful Tea Party wingnuts in both chambers.
That reflexive anti-Obama attitude is evident today as so many Republicans who used to be in favor of a deal to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are now so opposed to it. Most of them had no objections to George W. Bush releasing hundreds of Guantanamo detainees but want to impeach Obama for doing the same thing.
But trying to block an Iran deal can be a two-edged sword. Republicans may rally hardliners against the deal, particularly in the Jewish community, but they will open themselves to attacks by Democrats that they are trying to push the country into another war in the Middle East that the American people don't want and their economy can't afford. Moreover, they would be endangering Israel by thwarting diplomatic efforts to end the nuclear crisis, thereby increasing the chances of a war that would inevitably result in attacks against the Jewish state.
The fifth round of talks will be held in Vienna this week and for the first time American and Iranian officials will hold a one-on-one meeting outside the usual negotiations between Iran and the six world powers.