Many in Congress want the chance to kill the Iran deal. President Obama doesn’t want to give them that opportunity. I’m torn.
Like many liberals, I think America is generally better off when Congress has more oversight over foreign policy. It’s no coincidence that the greatest foreign policy disaster of the twentieth century, Vietnam, occurred near the height of what Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “The Imperial Presidency.” And the greatest foreign policy disaster of the twenty-first century occurred when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney created another imperial presidency after 9/11. Seeking unaccountable presidential power is a bipartisan affliction, and so even progressives who sympathize with Barack Obama’s foreign policy should be worried by his efforts to deny Congress a voice over something as big as a nuclear deal with Iran.
On the other hand, although the legislative branch’s constitutional prerogatives don’t depend on whether Congress reflects public opinion, it’s worth noting on that on Iran, it most certainly does not. Since last Thursday’s framework agreement, polls from both The Washington Post/ABC News and Reuters/Ipsos have shown that a small plurality of Republican voters actually support the Iran deal. Yet it’s likely that every single Republican senator will oppose it. Democrats, the polls show, back the agreement by margins of three or five to one. Yet key Senate Democrats are skeptical of the deal, and few have endorsed it enthusiastically.