Sunday, August 9, 2015

I was wrong about Schumer, and it feels so good

by Michael Goodwin
Never has being wrong felt so good, nor has a mistake been so worth celebrating.
Chuck Schumer surprised me in all the best ways. His opposition to the terrible Iran nuke deal is breathtakingly bold and opens the door to actually defeating it. That would be one of the best things to happen to America, Israel and the civilized world in a very long time.
Let us count the ways Schumer’s decision matters.
First, because he is the next Senate Democratic leader, I expected him to follow a president from his party and the majority of his caucus. He may pay a price for breaking out of the political box, but he gives cover to other Dems to do the same.
Second, his timing. Schumer ­announced his decision only a day after Obama made an impassioned, partisan appeal. Any momentum Obama had was stopped by Schumer, who effectively rebuked the president’s shameless attempt to link Republicans to Iranian hardliners. That rancid argument is now dead.
Third, the substance. Schumer issued a detailed statement demolishing supporters’ basic argument — that the deal, while imperfect, was better than no deal. Schumer persuasively showed the deal served Iran more than our side.
He broke his decision into three parts — the nuclear issues during the first 10 years of the deal, the nuclear issues in the following decade and the “non-nuclear” aspects, meaning Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism. For each, he asked whether we would be better off with or without the negotiated terms.
His conclusions were striking. We might be better off with the deal in the first decade, he argues, but almost certainly we would be better off without it in the other two parts.
He found numerous weaknesses in the text, including over inspections and sanctions. After the first decade, he wrote that Iran “can be very close to achieving” a nuke, and that the quest “will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States.”
He was just getting warmed up. The turning point, he said, was the non-nuclear issues, meaning Iran’s lethal ability to use unfrozen accounts of $50 billion to fund its terrorist programs. That added up to “a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one.”
His conclusions, which include doubts that Iran will move away from its apocalyptic theocracy, should resolve suspicions that Schumer might still side with an Obama veto. Absent a miraculous change in Iranian behavior, the senator has made the strongest possible case against the deal, so I don’t think he’ll flip-flop.
A fourth and final significance of Schumer’s position is that it makes New York the clear leader of the opposition movement. Five brave Democratic House members from the state — Eliot Engel, Steve Israel, Grace Meng, Nita Lowey and Kathleen Rice — also said no to Obama. The entire GOP delegation will do the same.
That should not be the end of it. National security is a local issue, as 9/11 painfully proved.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has joined the “no” chorus, and his successor, Michael Bloomberg, should, too. Former top cop Ray Kelly should sign on, as should business and civic leaders who understand the stakes.
Most important, Gov. Cuomo should lead them. Often willing to buck his party’s left-wing orthodoxy, including on school choice, the Iran deal should be the next example.
With the Empire State remaining the perennial first choice among jihadists, New York’s governor has an absolute duty to do everything he can to protect its residents, businesses and visitors from attack.
Schumer’s conclusion alone that Iran would use the end of sanctions to expand its export of terrorism is reason enough for the governor to join the opposition.
He would seem to be halfway there. Cuomo traveled to Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish state during last year’s Gaza war. When he returned, he said, “Any New Yorker who doesn’t understand that Israel’s fight is our fight is living not in the state of New York but in the state of denial.”
Now he can prove he meant what he said.

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