Should Democrats reject Charles Schumer as Majority Leader because of his position on the Iran deal? I’ve been wondering over the last few days if we’d see a backlash against his coronation because of it. Josh Marshall makes a strong case on why Senate Dems should find someone else.
I would take it a step further. I think Schumer should be disqualified on the basis of this decision alone. In fact, I would personally find it difficult to ever vote for Schumer again as my Senator, though I doubt he’ll lose much sleep over that since he is amazingly entrenched as New York’s senior senator.
I say all this with some regret since I’ve always liked Schumer. And I should make clear that I see fidelity to a President of one’s own party – even on an issue central to his presidency – as a non-issue in this case. The issue is that this agreement is a matter of grave importance. And Schumer’s position is wrong. Indeed, what makes it an issue for me is that it is more than wrong. His stated arguments are simply nonsensical and obviously tendentious. In this case, Schumer’s ample brain power stands as an indictment against him. There are plenty of senators who are voting against this deal because of a combination of bellicosity and partisan fervor. And there are a good number of them who either cannot or do not care to apply a real logical analysis of the question at hand. Let’s put that more bluntly, they’re either lazy or dumb. And of course this general point applies to senators on both sides of the aisle.
But Schumer is neither lazy nor dumb. And that’s why his decision is really unforgivable.
He argues for instance that even if even if the agreement keeps Iran from building nuclear warheads for a decade (false time frame, by the way), this deal makes things worse because the nuclear Iran ten years from now will be a supercharged Iran made more powerful and bold by sanctions relief.
This is a stupid argument.
So why did Schumer oppose the deal? I think he moves in circles, personal and financial, where this deal is simply anathema and he doesn’t feel he can or wants to buck that opinion. He may also believe he can have his cake and eat it too – vote against, satisfy, and stay good with key supporters and not block its adoption. This is actually what I see as the most likely answer. He may also feel uncomfortable enough on this hot seat that he simply won’t look at the logic of the situation.
I can know and frankly I don’t care. The bright line is that he’s smart enough to know better.
I’ve heard some say that this creates tension for him “on the left” in his quest to become Minority or Majority Leader. This is silly pundit talk. This isn’t the public option. This isn’t something supported by the foreign policy “left”. It’s very basic and mainstream and necessary. The fact that the neoconservatives who gamed the country into the Iraq disaster favor it does not change that.
Democratic senators who don’t reconsider support for Schumer as the leader of their caucus are making a big, big mistake. He should be ruled out of consideration for the job.
I know that much about the majority leader is position is largely procedural and that person does not totally control the caucus. And we know that Harry Reid, hardly a leftist, provided capable leadership even on issues where he personally disagreed with most of his caucus. We can also ask whether, were Schumer currently majority leader, whether the fate of the Iran deal would be any different. My sense is probably not since every senator can vote for it. But it is worrisome that on major issues with enormous national and international importance the majority leader would take untenable and dangerous positions that could lead to war and thousands of dead Americans. That’s just irresponsible and there’s no good reason for Democratic senators to vote for him when they have many other very capable options, including Dick Durbin and Patty Murray to name a couple who would like to have the job.