The American Conservative’s thoughtful Noah Millman was right: Republican conservatives, instead of responding cooly about the Obama administration’s Iran deal, are responding in a knee-jerk, talk show sound byte kind of way. The problem with knee-jerk is those that react that way often appear to be the second part of that phrase. And The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has noticed — and has chronicled — it:
Republicans are opposed to President Obama’s deal with the Iranians — whatever it is.
A couple of minutes after 9 p.m. on Saturday, word crossed the news wires that negotiators in Geneva had reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Then, at 9:08 p.m. — before any details of the pact were known — Ari Fleischer delivered his opinion on the agreement, via Twitter.
“The Iran deal and our allies: You can’t spell abandonment without OBAMA,” he wrote.
This is the sort of trenchant judgment Fleischer was known for as chief spokesman for President George W. Bush at the start of the Iraq war. His anagram analysis was so relevant to the topic that it deserves application to his name, too. Turns out you can’t spell “Re: Chief Liars,” “Hi, false crier,” “Hire Sir Fecal” or “I relish farce” without ARI FLEISCHER.
But Fleischer’s instant and reflexive response — even knees don’t jerk as quickly as he did — set the tone for Republicans. Three minutes after Fleischer’s tweet came one in agreement from Ron Christie, another veteran of the Bush administration.
“Precisely,” he wrote, also without the benefit of knowing what was in the agreement. “A disgraceful deal.”
And, as I noted before HERE there is the Cheneyization of the Republican Party to take into account, as well. Today’s conservatism more often than not has an angry, yelling, berating, tone, rather than outlining in detail WHY a better approach is better and specifically what else could or should have been done. MORE Milbank:
An hour later — still before Obama detailed the accord in a statement from the White House — John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, had analyzed the administration’s motives in reaching the deal.
“Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” he tweeted at 10:15 p.m., 19 minutes before the president spoke.
Aha! So the agreement to suspend Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated over several months, was actually a clever (and prescient) ruse to turn attention away from problems with the health-care law, which surfaced in the past several weeks.
This was a variant on the “wag the dog” accusation, named after the 1997 film. But in the movie, and in the way critics applied the accusation to President Bill Clinton, a devious commander in chief was distracting attention from domestic troubles by waging war.
Cornyn’s usage, however, would appear to be the first time a president has been accused of distracting the public’s attention by making peace. Call it “wag the dove.”
And, indeed, you now get the feeling that if there was another 9/11 tomorrow and the Obama administration responded, some Republicans would charge the Obama administration with responding just to take the public’s mind of Obamacare.
And here is where Milbank nails it:
In the eyes of Republicans, the agreement with Iran has a fatal flaw: It was negotiated by the Obama administration.
But isn’t that so much now about what the current incarnation of Republican conservatism is all about? If Obama does something or endorses something, oppose it. And use as many bumpersticker phrases and talk radio style sound bytes as possible.
But, truly, is this surprising? Or is it a nonstory? Sadly, it is getting to be a nonstory:
The opposition in this case is particularly mindless. Certainly there are reasons to be skeptical that Iran will act in good faith. But the deal is temporary — six months — and easily reversible. In the (likely) event that Iran doesn’t agree to a permanent accord to end its nuclear program, the tougher sanctions contemplated in Congress could be applied. Would it be better to go to war now without exhausting diplomatic options? We’ve been there and done that — when Ari Fleischer stood on the White House podium.
But Republicans were being reflexive, not reflective. They went right to 1938. Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.) tweeted the message “Worse than Munich” and a link to a Breitbart News article with that headline and images showing Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart juxtaposed with Hitler and Chamberlain.
The bad thing about our politics is that it’s now so predictable; the good thing about our politics is that it’s now so predictable.
But predictable it is……..
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.