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Friday, October 28, 2016

Wednesday was not just any day in the life of the republic. Up on Capitol Hill, a topsy-turvy scene was going on, with slings and stones thrown at the White House, President Obama, and his prized Iranian nuclear deal, reached in concert with other Western democracies.

But this time Obama had done his homework over recess and called friends in Congress to secure their support.

Right now is a landmark time for reason and diplomacy coming to the table, preventing a new war breaking out in the Middle East. The American people’s president knows peace is paramount.

But Republicans in Congress haven’t met a war they didn’t love since the Sept. 11 attacks. That day addled them, though neither Iraq — not Iran — had a hand in 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. They need to face that, like now.

Donald Trump, the main stone thrower outside the Capitol, acted like he owned the place. Can’t you just see “Trump” in gold letters on democracy’s citadel? It’s like the Roman Republic becoming the Roman Empire, here and now. He does a mean Caesar. He’ll fire one member of the House, week by week, in the spiffy new Oval.

The 93-degree heat felt like the beating sun on the savannah — just part of the hot air. Trump was roaring on the West Front like the biggest GOP elephant he has become. He insulted Obama’s leadership of the international Iranian deal and blasted “incompetent” Democrats in Congress who stand by it. And he lumped Republican leaders under the heading of “very stupid.”

Very nice. I guess nobody had heard of the “water’s edge” tradition in foreign policy, coined by a leading Republican in the post-war 1940s. Senator Arthur Vandenberg said partisan politics should stop at the water’s edge.

That meant foreign policy was solely the president’s sphere. Let Congress bicker about domestic policy, but the world should see a united front between our two oceans. Remember Richard Nixon in China?

Under the Capitol dome, which is still under scaffolding, lawmakers opened a bitter debate on the Iranian deal. On the floor, Senator John McCain beat the drum against the deal, a labor of love so elegantly crafted by his longtime colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry, as snow white-haired McCain, who lost to Obama in 2008, slipped in Senatespeak and called Obama “Obama.” That’s President Obama to you, sir.

Word went round that Democrats have enough votes to send the deal to Obama’s desk, beating back a filibuster. Sure enough, 42 senators held on Thursday. The House will take more votes next week. It’s a closely contested call in the Republican-controlled chambers.

Hope swarmed the halls to thwart Obama’s greatest foreign policy goal — and after seven years, his lasting legacy. Many of the deal’s opponents were lobbying for American Jewish groups, acting to support Israel, the one ally fiercely against the deal.

Democratic senator Dick Durbin, spoke softly on the floor, with fury, about the Army’s invasion: For what? “There was no WMD,” he said, darkly calling up false claims made by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, regarding Iraq years ago. Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid says his biggest mistake was voting for the Iraq war.

Bush is a sport about staying mum out of office, but Cheney (with brazen daughter Liz) is making a truly outrageous fortune flogging a new screed, Exceptional, against Obama. That’s a shame for national security, diplomacy, and presidential history. Or, as the Brits say, it’s just not done.

The angry young Texas senator Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate, was right there with Trump at the rally, which Cruz organized. Their budding “bromance” perfumed the air.

George Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” suddenly seemed so late 18th century.

Yet Washington also knew a timeless truth for now and then: You make peace with your enemies. You don’t make peace with your friends.

The Washington Post, which eagerly cheered on the Bush-Cheney wars, also threw a stone at the White House, with an op-ed scolding Obama for staying out of the Syrian tragedy — a direct outcome of those wars.

The song at the Trump-Cruz rally was: “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses a Tea Party rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

  • Dominick Vila

    I am anxiously awaiting the response from the far right when they hear about the Ayatollah Khameni’s twitter message to his zealots: “the Zionist regime will not last another 25 years, and while it is true that he approved negotiations on a nuclear deal with the West, the Great Satan will not be allowed in Iran ever again” The latter refers to our involvement in the removal of Mossadegh from power, and our support to the Shah of Iran, which ended up with the revolution that put the Ayatollahs and Mullahs in a position that goes well beyond traditional spiritual leadership.
    What people like Trump, Cruz, Carson, Huckabee and a few others must understand is that there are consequences to what we say, what we promise, and what we do. They must also understand that what they say, in this day and age, goes well beyond our borders, and has an impact on our credibility worldwide.
    If these charlatans cannot offer tangible evidence as to why the nuclear agreement with Iran is flawed, they should make it perfectly clear that their position on this issue is influenced by loyalty to Israel, and political imperatives, rather than actual concerns over its effectiveness. Otherwise, they invite other charlatans and opportunists, like Khomeini, to do the same thing they do: appeal to their followers by feeding them the raw meat they want to hear for political gain.
    Opposition to the nuclear agreement negotiated with Iran has absolutely nothing to do with it being flawed, but with the fact that it serves as a convenient political football, and because it may contribute to a more stable Persian Gulf and Middle East.

    • FireBaron

      Dominick, they have all come out and said they are opposed to this because they fear for Israel’s existence! They all realize that our military has the capability of negating Iran’s existence within a 15 minute time frame.
      Although considering that the Conservative Christian wing of the Republican Party is hoping for an Armageddon in the Middle East to bring about the Second Coming, one would think they would be doing all they could to encourage the Arab nations to attack Israel!

      • Dominick Vila

        They are also well aware of the fact that Israel has a nuclear arsenal that would allow them to turn Iran into ashes in a matter of minutes.
        This charade is influenced, in part, by a desire to deny President Obama a major foreign policy victory, to protect and advance our special interests in the region (oil and arms industries), to make sure our financial and military aid to Israel is not affected, and to appeal to the most ignorant or naive among us to win elections.
        The greatest irony if that the terms of the agreement reached with Iran go well beyond what anyone would have expected. Complaining about the fact that lifting sanctions would provide Iran with the revenues they need for economic growth and job creation, and insinuating that releasing the Iranian financial assets we froze as a punitive action against them constitutes, in some unexplained way, U.S. financial assistance to Iran is beyond logic, and shows how gullible Republican voters are.

  • joe schmo

    “Right now is a landmark time for reason and diplomacy coming to the
    table, preventing a new war breaking out in the Middle East. The
    American people’s president knows peace is paramount.”

    Here we go….sailing in the clouds to a self proclaimed LaLaLand….LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLal……… you libs have lost it! ‘Peace is paramount? That’s a joke!

  • ham hock

    I wonder how conservatives feel knowing their foreign policy is laughed at and abhorred by the rest of the first world? Sure they will deny it up and down, then eventually give in and just yell “WELL AMERICA IS THE GREATEST SO SCREW THEM!” Sad that rational human beings have to put up with them. But if someone chooses to be blind, you cant make them see.