President Obama has two routes for getting the Iran nuclear deal approved by Congress. The more difficult path involves attempting to woo Republicans, though they’ve already vowed to kill the deal. Or Obama could just shore up support among Democrats so when he vetoes the GOP’s “resolution of disapproval” Congress won’t have the votes to override him. Supposedly the White House has not settled on which path it will pursue, but Obama’s decision to invoke the name of the GOP’s favorite human in explaining his rationale for the deal suggests he isn’t all that concerned about angering them further. He said in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman:>
You know, I have a lot of differences with Ronald Reagan, but where I completely admire him was his recognition that if you were able to verify an agreements that you would negotiate with the evil empire that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be [then it would be worth doing]. I had a lot of disagreements with Richard Nixon, but he understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path. You test these things, and as long as we are preserving our security capacity — as long as we are not giving away our ability to respond forcefully, militarily, where necessary to protect our friends and our allies — that is a risk we have to take. It is a practical, common-sense position. It’s not naïve; it’s a recognition that if we can in fact resolve some of these differences, without resort to force, that will be a lot better for us and the people of that region.
Obama said he doubts they’ll get many Republicans onboard, since “there’s a certain party line that has to be toed, within their primaries and among many sitting members of Congress.” But he said that’s “not across the board” and called out one candidate by name. “It’ll be interesting to see what somebody like a Rand Paul has to say about this,” Obama said. Apparently the interview took place before Paul had registered his opposition with a series of GIFs:
Most Republican presidential candidates were similarly apoplectic and suggested they would promptly undo the deal if elected, but Obama said they should really be thanking him:
I think that if I were succeeded by a Republican president — and I’ll be doing everything that I can to prevent that from happening — but if I were, that Republican president would be in a much stronger position than I was when I came into office, in terms of constraining Iran’s nuclear program. He will be in a position to know that 98 percent of their nuclear material has been shipped out. He would know that the majority of the centrifuges had been removed. He would know that there is no heavy reactor there. He’d know that the international community had signed on to this. He would know everything that we’ve learned from the inspection regime. And he’d still be in possession of the entire arsenal of our armed forces, and our diplomatic and intelligence services, to deal with the possibility that Iran was cheating. … They’re not going to admit that now.
It’s okay — Obama gets it. Republicans have to chase him. Because he’s the hero U.S. foreign policy deserves, but not the one it needs right now.