Politics is defined according to one classic set of political scientists as the art of the possible. For the past six and a half years the Republicans in Congress have fought the President on every key issue that has come before them and never accepted the need to compromise and move on. This approach to solving the nation’s problems has thrown the executive-legislative system of joint decision-making into a pathetic stalemate. Less constructive legislating is being done and more political posturing is in place. It is an impossible way to govern.
In considering the Obama Administration differences with Israel over the Iran deal, unfortunately, there is a striking similarity in how Prime Minister Netanyahu is fighting his battles with Washington. It is patently clear that having decided that Israel’s strongest support is now within the ranks of the GOP (excluding the likes of Rand Paul), Netanyahu has adopted a similar political technique with the Obama Administration, which like the Republicans in their confrontations with the President, Bibi will lose.
Having nothing to do with their own personal dislikes, Netanyahu apparently does believe that the art of successful politics is achieved through confrontation. He will take his fight down to the last vote in Congress and/or even an override effort, although it is becoming readily apparent that Israel and its American supporters are losing the fight to block the deal from going through. As Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Jewish Democratic Member from New York said in his press conference announcing his support for the deal, the consequences of having no deal at this point are more dangerous than accepting the agreement; understanding that there will be efforts to hold Iran accountable should it violate the terms of the agreement. (There was one very crucial comment that Israel’s supporters should have heard in Nadler’s remarks. The President, apparently, gave Nadler assurances that Israel will be covered in the future; implicit was the fact that Nadler—no shrinking violet—will hold Obama accountable to that pledge.)
It is crucial for Israel that–like they turned around 180 degrees in 1981 from opposing the AWAC’s deal with Saudi Arabia and left the pro-Israel community in the lurch holding the bag—so too must they act now and move on. This is what politics is about. It is not clear that Netanyahu has the political will or ability to do that. Failing to do so will only exacerbate the effort to repair the damage that has been wrought, after the final votes are tallied next month.
(The impact of this entire effort on American Jews and the Jewish community will be the subject of a subsequent posting.)