Thursday, September 10, 2015

The GOP's new Iran deal plan is cynical, dishonest, and politically brilliant

Max Fisher writes in Vox, The GOP's new Iran deal plan is cynical, dishonest, and politically brilliant

Republicans, in this new plan, would argue that President Obama didn't live up to his promise to fully inform Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, so therefore Congress cannot vote on whether to approve the deal.

This is not really true, but that's beside the point. The point is that Republicans don't like their current strategy because it means, after they vote on their doomed resolution, they will have conceded the Iran deal as politically legitimate.

This new strategy would allow Republicans to argue in perpetuity that the Iran nuclear deal is somehow illegitimate, without ever actually proving that. It would create a definitionally irresolvable political 'controversy' over the deal, allowing Republicans to raise money and hold hearings and go on conservative talk radio for many years to come, making conspiratorial claims about the Obama administration withholding some vital information.

It would look, in other words, a lot like Republicans' years-long political campaign over Benghazi. In that campaign, the focus was almost never on actual US mistakes in Libya — which are substantial but complex — but rather was on misleading conspiracy theories and nonsense political controversies.

Similarly, this new GOP anti-deal strategy would let them avoid the actual substance of the Iran deal, and instead focus on dark claims about self-inspections and the like. This not only lets Republicans direct the focus to talk-radio-friendly conspiracy theories, but also allows them to assert, for years to come, that Obama never followed correct procedure on getting congressional approval, and thus that the Iran deal is illegitimate.

The first such conspiracy theory they appear to be going with — the first of many, I am sure — is the alleged 'secret side deal.'"

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