Chuck bites the bullet
So Chuck Schumer has come out against the Iran agreement being pushed by President Obama. Let’s talk about it, but before we do, let me tell you where I stand, at least in shorthand. I am Jewish. I tend to vote Democratic, but not always. I am for the Iran deal despite all its potential downfalls. I also know and respect Chuck Schumer and have interviewed him many times. He is blazingly smart, funny and nice. He is also a very important player in the Senate, the Congress and New York. He is slated to be the next Minority Leader and maybe, just maybe, the next Majority Leader in the Senate. If that goes well he will be one of the most important men in the world. He has to run for the Senate in an upcoming election. There is an old rule in politics: “First you have to get elected.” I can’t tell you how many people have forgotten that rule and faded into oblivion. I was speaking with one of my students from back in the day and he explained Schumer’s decision this way: “He had to do it.”
This is not the first time I have disagreed with one of Schumer’s decisions. The last time was when he decided to vote for the U.S. incursion into Iraq. I was really angry about that. I thought we had been lied to about “weapons of mass destruction” and it turned out I was right. To Schumer’s credit, he told me he had made a decision on Iraq and would love to announce it at an event at The Linda, WAMC’s performance venue in Albany. I know our audience and figured there would be some left of center folks there who would admonish Chuck for his position. And so it was, the day arrived and sure enough there were some people with blood in their eyes. One of them, an aging hippie type with a gray pony tail, was yelling at an intern about the event’s format. When I approached and explained that he could not talk to our student that way, he became very agitated and threw his free cup of scalding coffee on me. When Chuck came into the hall he was heard to say in a very loud voice, “Where’s the peacenik who threw hot coffee on Alan?”
So Chuck has given his reasons for being against the Iran deal. He doesn’t like the Iranian leaders, something I can certainly relate to. He doesn’t trust them and he thinks that in ten years when the deal runs out, they will be even closer to constructing a nuclear bomb than they are now. He also says that once the various economic constraints and sanctions are lifted, they will use their new found monies to do mischief around the world, including funding Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. Finally, he says that the deal posits a 24-day delay on inspections. Hey, either you have inspections or you don’t. Frankly, it would be hard to say that he’s wrong about any of that.
With all that said, I am still for the deal. In ten years, as Mario Cuomo used to say citing a Polish proverb, “a new pope might be born.” We know that the younger Iranians are far less likely to follow the religious fanaticism of the old mullahs. What’s more, the United States has a lot of tricks up their sleeves and a mighty military to dissuade bad behavior. Then too, there are the Israelis and their war-making power. Many people are very angry at Schumer. They say that he is doing it just for the money or because he’s Jewish. While I disagree with him on this one, I do want him to be the Majority Leader and I know him to be a decent guy. I am willing to cut him some slack.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 8/17/15