New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s opposition to the Obama administration’s controversial Iranian nuclear deal — finalized last month and taken to the U.N. before Congress and the American people — is a sign that Schumer is "putting conscience before politics," according to Politico magazine.
The magazine piece was written by Patrick Caddell, a former pollster for President Jimmy Carter and a principal on the Secure America Now (SAN) poll, and Douglas Schoen, a former pollster for President Bill Clinton. Both men are contributors at Fox News.
Public opinion polls indicate that a plurality of Americans, "including key parts of the Democratic party’s coalition," oppose the deal, according to Caddell and Schoen. Yet Obama, Kerry and others in the administration "have been berating the nuclear deal’s opponents," with Kerry "almost disdainful to members of Congress who have the temerity to suggest that the deal should be voted down and renegotiated."
The secretary of state "seems to have become a defender of Iran’s rights rather than an advocate of the United States' best interests," Caddell and Schoen write.
Obama needs the support of one-third of either the House of Representatives or the Senate (he’s currently eight votes shy of capturing the Senate) to keep Republicans from trouncing the nuclear deal, Reuters
At least 146 House members are necessary to "safeguard the agreement" there, but currently Obama only has the support of some 69 House lawmakers, with another 140 undeclared, according to Reuters, citing data from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Complicating matters for the president are the defections of Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, two senior and influential members of his own party.
Schumer explained his position in a statement
issued after carefully studying the accord and "questioning dozens of proponents and opponents, and seeking answers to questions that go beyond the text of the agreement but will have real consequences that must be considered."
In the end, he said, he is voting against the deal "because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.
"Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be."
Schumer is not caving to Obama’s "apocalyptic warnings" about a bad deal versus no deal, according to Politico, and polling indicates his "principled stand enjoys broad support."
He "may actually be protecting the Democratic Party from the real political danger inherent in Obama’s actions," according to Caddell and Schoen.
"The contempt that the president and John Kerry showed by taking this agreement to the U.N. before submitting it to Congress and the American people was reckless," they write. "They are not only thumbing their noses at the American people and Congress, but they are showing contempt for the primacy of our system of checks and balances and they could be setting up the Democratic party for years of attacks of 'you caused this!' every time Iran behaves in a threatening manner."
Whether Democrats will follow Schumer's lead "and have the courage to stand up for what they believe and what the American people want, or whether they will be cowered by their president and risk damaging the party for years to come" will be determined in the coming weeks, when Congress reconvenes from recess, they said.
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