Sunday Morning Quarterbacking: The Kavanaugh Edition

It’s all about Sunday morning quarterbacking, isn’t it?

(Photo Credit: Getty /Images)

Optics for Republicans

Trump wins… on several fronts: his nominee has been confirmed; the GOP rallied behind his nominee and thus by absentia, the party rallied behind Trump, just four weeks before the midterm elections.

McConnell, again, looks like a master tactician and legislator… Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, Tip O’Neill, Newt Gingrich, and Mitch McConnell?

See:

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Famous_Five_Seven.htm

In Nevada, in perhaps one of the most closely watched Senate races, Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen is now leading Republican incumbent Dean Heller in the polls:

  • CNN* 9/25 – 9/29 693 LV 4.6 47 43 Rosen +4
  • Gravis 9/11 – 9/12 700 LV 3.7 47 45 Rosen +2
  • Suffolk* 9/5 – 9/10 500 LV 4.4 42 41 Rosen +1

[Of course, that makes me wonder why Heller wasn’t invited into the meetings with Collins, Murkowski, and Flake; or why he wasn’t more targeted by the liberal media, activists, and Senators. Heller is hardly the most conservative and ideological member of the GOP Caucus: according to Senate Report Cards, Heller is the 36th most conservative U.S. Senator out of a possible 52/53 (the ranking was conducted before Sen. McCain’s death; McCain was ranked 45th).]

To Democrats, Mitch McConnell’s insistence on a procedural vote on Friday 10/5/18 and his pre-announcement of that vote before the supplemental FBI investigation was even concluded, smacks of political disdain for the investigatory process and a rush to judgment (after all, the final vote was essentially a straight party vote).

To Republicans, Brett Kavanaugh is a victim of slander, liberal conspiracies, and collusion between the female accusers… Each incident seemingly brought to light at the last possible moment in an apparent and orchestrated attempt to slow down the process to get the final floor vote closer and closer to the November midterms. Yet, in terms of optics, the all White-Male Republican members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the nomination of a fellow White-Male to the floor for a full vote. It looks like almost everything Republican have accused Democrats of regarding race warfare and identity politics.

Optics for Democrats

The Democrats look bipolar at best:

First and foremost, the Senate Democrats lost. In particular, Diane Feinstein (CA-D) seems to have lost political points with her GOP colleagues. [And soon-to-be Governor Garvin Newsom is waiting in the wings; he needs Feinstein to hang on, just a little bit longer before he runs for her (lifetime) seat.]

I don’t remember the Senate Democrats fighting for Merrick Garland this aggressively? But, of course, most pundits thought the Hillary Clinton would become the 45th U.S. President so that the fight wasn’t necessarily worth the Senate Democrats’ political capital.

Nor do I remember the Senate Democrats attacking Neil Gorsuch this aggressively? Of course, Gorsuch’s nomination didn’t change the net math of the political alignment of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Gorsuch nomination process occurred 15 months before Kavanaugh’s nomination process began, almost 19 months before the next election.

Which brings me to my next point: There are two ways to interpret the political theater of the past month or so, and the two lenses are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

First, there is the moral line of thinking. As mentioned in the previous commentary on the Kavanaugh nomination, three successful career-driven women accused Kavanaugh of various sexual inappropriateness, from attempted rape to sexual harassment.

Secondly, there is the political line of thinking. Democrats can be political and moral, just as easily as either party can be political and immoral.

To Democrats, this is an example of why Gorsuch was treated differently; no allegations were made against Justice Gorsuch, whereas allegations were made against Kavanaugh. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” argument necessitated further hearings and, at the insistence of Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, a supplementary FBI investigation.

[To Republicans, the Kavanaugh nomination was treated differently because of the calendar. Each incident seemingly brought to light at the last possible moment in an apparent and orchestrated attempt to slow down the process to get the final floor vote closer and closer to the November midterms.]

There is a Difference between Partisanship and Political Ideology

Of course, the partisan division of the Senate is 51-47(2), so within the context of the exercised nuclear option in 2017 and party cohesion, the Democrats were always going to lose. A lot of their political strategy was based upon the new Gang of Six and the tightness of the calendar.

But disturbing to me was the rhetoric from Republican Senators and the President that identifying the allegations, calls for supplementary hearings, and supplemental investigations… Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration blamed it all on “The Democrats.” I don’t remember the same ire being directed at the Republican members of the Gang of Six?

Even more disturbing, was Justice Kavanaugh’s usage of the phrase, “The Democrats.”

As I said in earlier podcast, this nomination was always about the new (temporary) Gang of Six: Susan Collins (ME-R), Lisa Murkowski (AK-R), and Jeff Flake (AZ-R), and to a lesser extent, Joe Manchin (WV-D), Heidi Heitkamp (ND-D), Joe Donnelly (IN-D). [And, the Gang of Six, didn’t invite Donnelly or Heitkamp to that secret meeting last week, did they?] Heitkamp is likely going down in the November election, Manchin may save his seat, but leave many wondering, why he is a Democrat again? Essentially Manchin and Murkowski swapped votes; the Kavanaugh confirmation belongs to Susan Collins (ME-R).

And, again, in Nevada, in perhaps one of the most closely watched Senate races, Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen is now leading Republican incumbent Dean Heller in the polls. Why was this not more of an issue in the Kavanaugh proceedings?

The Future of Brett Kavanaugh

Pyrrhic victory? For many Democrats, he is now forever tainted. He is the Clarence Thomas of the 21st century. Does he, Kavanaugh, care? Does he attempt a remake of his image? Or does Kavanaugh, as Bethany Mandel (editor of Ricochet) suggests, become more radicalized himself in terms of cases of due process and the presumption of innocence?

In my Op-Ed in the Providence Journal on July 26, 2018, I definitively stated that Kavanaugh was qualified to be confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. I firmly believe the President of the United States has the right to nominate his person to the Court. Barack Obama had that right, and Donald Trump has that right too. But that was before the sexual accusations and the apparent perjury before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as the woefully inappropriate display of temperament, particularly toward Amy Klobuchar (MI-D) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI-D).

Even more disturbing than the rhetoric from President Trump and many Republican Senators who used the phrase “The Democrats” as a swear and explain-it-all for all the evils in the Universe, however, was Justice Kavanaugh’s usage of the phrase, “The Democrats.” The veil of judicial apolitical independence and nonpartisan neutrality continues to be shredded.

The Future of the US Supreme Court

Sad and partisan… Pathetic. This is the ugliness of the so-called nuclear option which both parties had been threatening for years… 

Specifically, the political mess of the Kavanaugh Nomination was created on April 7, 2017, when the Republican-led U.S. Senate exercised the “nuclear option” but its roots lay in the blocking of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. That’s a fact, not ideological blame. [Neither party is innocent: Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (MT-D) eliminated the ability to halt all proceedings with the introduction of the “two-track system” and, in 1975,  Mansfield revised the Senate cloture rule so that three-fifths of sworn senators (60 votes out of 100) could limit debate, except for changing Senate rules which still requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting to invoke cloture. On January 25, 2013, Harry Reid (NV-D) changed the Senate rules to prohibit a filibuster on a motion to begin consideration of a bill. No, neither party is innocent, but the GOP desperation to hold on to a 5-4 majority in terms of Merrick Garland, and the even more eager, gluttonous desire to move the court to a solid 5-4 regardless of the cost is the most acute reason that we’ve arrived at this point. In the past three decades, there have only been two nominations which were confirmed by a Senate Majority of the opposite party:

  1. In 1990, the Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee reported Republican-nominated Souter out the committee by a vote of 14–3, the Senate confirmed the nomination by a vote of 90–9.
  2. 106. In the 1991 Thomas’ confirmation process, the Democrat-led Judiciary Committee split 7–7 on September 27, sending the nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation. Republican-nominated Thomas was confirmed by a 52–48 vote by the Democrat-controlled US Senate on October 15, 1991, the narrowest margin for approval in more than a century. The final floor vote was: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted to confirm while 46 Democrats and two Republicans voted to reject the nomination.

Both times Democrats confirmed Republican nominees and, in the case of one of those nominations, it could have been filibustered but was not. This is what fuels Democrat ire and accusations of hypocrisy. 

In my podcast on September 15, 2018, I think I made the point, though it is worth reiterating: Eleven justices have been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court since O’Connor, with a twelfth confirmation and appointment imminent: Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, RBG, Stephen Breyer, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch. Confirmations used to be more unanimous with the exception of Clarance Thomas.

It is also worth noting, that only from 2009–2011 in the 111th Congress did either party have a super-majority. In most other years, the U.S. Senate was split roughly 50-50, plus or minus two to 5 seats. What has happened? We have increasingly politicized the Court, we have nominated more and more ideological candidates to the U.S. Supreme Court instead of nominating people, we’re nominating party. A return to civility in SCOTUS nominations is long overdue.

And the 2018 Midterm Elections

Which is the excited political base(s): The party with the momentum is usually hurt the most in the impending election.

Is it the Blue Wave that cometh?

Or is the upcoming wave For the GOP? By Bryan Dean Wright | Fox News

For Dems or Gop? by Alex Seitz-Wald and Benjy Sarlin

The Recap in Rhetoric

Look at the language: the language from Trump, Kavanaugh, and McConnell was about “Democrats,” Democrats,” and “Democrats.” This was never about “The Democrats,” yet the Right has continuously framed it about the so-called “Democrats” for political expediency.

The Recap in Politics

The vote on Saturday was 50 GOP in favor (with the noted absence of proud father Steve Daines), 1 GOP against, and one Democrat in favor. Straight party blindness on both sides.

This process, ever since the announcement of Anthony Kennedy’s decision to take senior status, was always about the (temporary) new Gang of Six: Susan Collins (ME-R), Lisa Murkowski (AK-R), and Jeff Flake (AZ-R), and to a lesser extent, Joe Manchin (WV-D), Heidi Heitkamp (ND-D), Joe Donnelly (IN-D). Really it was about the Gang of Four of Susan Collins (ME-R), Lisa Murkowski (AK-R), and Jeff Flake (AZ-R), and Joe Manchin (WV-D). ANd, if you really want to tighten it further, it was always about the two pro-choice Republican women: Susan Collins (ME-R) and Lisa Murkowski (AK-R).

Negative Societal Effects (and hopefully a few positive societal effects as well)

The neotribalism of politics continues… tell me, how many Republicans do you know who believe the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, or think his apparent perjury regarding alcohol? How many Democrats do you know who believe Brett Kavanaugh is innocent of all the allegations against him and is a victim of partisan games and revenge tactics? Exactly…

Then there is the racial or social status aspect to the debate; if students of all-male Catholic prep schools are just kids and, “boys will be boys” then why do we charge young minority children -or any children- as adults for crimes those children commit?

Then there is the gender aspect of the debate. Honestly, one of the more reassuring details (though to many it seems like a possible hypocritical detail) is that Brett Kavanaugh is the father of two young girls, Liza and Margaret Kavanaugh.

While this is unfair, I really have trouble listening to defenses of Kavanaugh by anyone who doesn’t have daughters, especially men without daughters. As my good friend Dana, oh, let’s call her DKD. DKD, a conservative woman with a daughter and a son said to me recently, “As a mother, it scares the s*** out of me that any girl can come forward and make an accusation like that that makes a boy guilty before proven innocent.”

That’s a real concern. How do we protect the women in our lives from predatory males, how do we educate our boys not be predatory males, how do we encourage women who are assaulted to speak up, while at the same time, protect males from fraudulent allegations? My greatest hope was so eloquently written and spoke by Monica Hesse of the Washington Post. 

I don’t have the answer to all those questions, but those are the questions we should all be asking right now, regardless of political ideology. And those questions must be asked collectively, or the questions become a reflection of neotribalistic bias, in this case, gender bias or at least gender preference. [Off the top of my head, the only issue of similar complexity, in my opinion, is the question of male paternity rights in the face of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.]

[DKD also asked rhetorically: “As an employer, do I not hire women because it may be ‘risky’ and expose the business to more liability?” But that’s another discussion for another podcast.]

What are we to believe? Who are we to believe?

We will never know the truth about the sexual allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. And it will take a career on the Supreme Court to completely understand his ideology. As I concluded in the July Op-Ed, “Who is the real Brett Kavanaugh? We’ll just have to wait until he’s been confirmed and begins his tenure. Ultimately, we won’t really know until he’s been on the court for 30 years — like his old boss, Anthony Kennedy.

 

Pelosi Should Ride off into the Sunset

In martial arts, there is a philosophy of using your opponents’ strength against them. Remember candidate Jon Ossoff (GA-6), candidate now-Congressman Conor Lamb (PA-18) and candidate Danny O’Connor (OH-12) for example. Think of all the PAC money and campaign funds that have been spent this year tying Democratic candidates to Nancy Pelosi (CA-12). In politics, pollsters and pundits talk about unfavorable numbers. I think its probably safe to say that the three politicians with the highest unfavorable are, in alphabetical order, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Donald Trump. Try as Trump may, Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot in the 2018 midterm elections. On November 6, 2018, however, it is easy to make the argument that every vote cast for Congress is a proxy vote for either Pelosi or Trump.

Here are two lists: The first list is, in alphabetical order, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, George Foreman, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry Rice, and Tiger Woods. All five are incredible athletes. The second list, also successful athletes, is Tiki Barber, Jim Brown, Rocky Marciano, Barry Sanders, Robert Smith, and Annika Sorenstam. Given a choice, which list would you want to be on? What do the people on each list have in common? The first list includes athletes that are considered by many to have played too long. Conversely, the second list of athletes are often said to have retired too early in their career.

So, which is Nancy Pelosi? Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) has represented California’s 12th Congressional district since 1987; Pelosi is currently the 14th most senior member of the House of Representatives and the 7th senior Democrat. Pelosi has been the Democratic Leader of the House since 2003. Her tenure is not only longer than any other Democratic House Leader but also longer than the longest-serving Republican House leaders as well; Robert Mitchel (IL-18) served 14 years as Republican Leader of the House of Representatives from 1981–1995. (For comparison, the longest serving party leaders in the U.S. Senate are Mike Mansfield (D-MT) 16 years as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate from 1961 to 1977 and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who served 11 years as the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate from 2007 to 2018.)

In the NFL, Bill Belichick’s successful defensive strategy has been described as “taking away the opponents’ best option.” Nancy Pelosi has already made history as the longest serving Democratic Leader in the House and as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. If Pelosi wants to help her party win control of the House, she should announce in September that she will not run for House leadership in the 116th Congress. Such an announcement would give political cover to nascent Democratic House candidates as well as vulnerable Democratic incumbents. It takes away the go-to talking points of Republican candidates, pundits, and sympathetic media. At the same time, Trump’s high unfavorable poll numbers would still be available as talking points with independent voters. Like Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, Nancy Pelosi could go out on top. On January 3, 2019, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) may well pass the Speaker’s Gavel ceremonially to Nancy Pelosi who would do well to pass the gavel to the next generation of House Democratic leaders.

 

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The Counter Argument:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/15/politics/pelosi-doesnt-matter-in-midterms/index.html

 

Conservative Rapprochement Bias

Meet the FOCRs? I’d really like to call it the FOCR Theory (Favoritism of Conservative Rapprochement), but let’s just call it Conservative Rapprochement Bias (CRB). Conservative Rapprochement Bias is the propensity for diplomatic breakthroughs to be initiated or codified by political conservatives. The phrase “Conservative Rapprochement Bias” is not an attempt to be derogatory, but to be descriptive; more moderate protagonists and those with a wider viewpoint are often already committed to change, so the gamechanger occurs when conservative or extremists commit to change or peace.

I wrote about this years ago and called it Narrowism. At the time, I defined the phenomena as a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. That definition certainly describes the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In that situation, there were four Northern Irish political parties, as well as three nation-states party to the negotiations. The three nation-states (The US, UK, and Ireland) all wanted a deal. Among the Northern Irish, there were the more mainstream parties that desired a deal, namely the Social Democratic and Labour Party of John Hume, and the David Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party. Those two Nobel Laureates deserve all the praise that the peacemakers received, but the deal was never a deal, until the other two parties with narrower and more politically extremist parties agreed to the Agreement, or at least participated in the result. The extremist Loyalist, Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), initially participated in the negotiations but withdrew when his ideological mirror, Gerry Adams of Sein Fein was allowed a seat at the table following his Nationalist party’s paramilitary (terrorist) affiliate the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced a ceasefire. My point is, negotiations between centrist Nationalists like SDLP, and center Loyalists like UUP, was never going to end The Troubles. The Troubles ended when the IRA announced a ceasefire, Gerry Adams and Sein Fein took their seats at the negotiating table and, post Agreement, Ian Paisley’s DUP took control of the new government after winning the plurality of seats and, ultimately, with Ian Paisley becoming First Minister in 2007.

~~~

Yes, the Good Friday Agreement is a perfect example of Narrowism, however, when I proposed the term in 2011, I was naïve. Narrowism is certainly valid, but I now see the phenomena differently. I know believe that the more common pattern is Conservative Rapprochement Bias.

Sometimes that Conservative Rapprochement may even play out within a side of the political spectrum. Look at the US Civil Rights movement: It took a conservative Southern Democrat and master legislator like LBJ to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Would Southern Democrats ever accept a deal brokered by Northerners like JFK, had not been assassinated?

~~~

Let’s look back at a few examples of the Conservative Rapprochement Bias:

1972, US President Richard Nixon travels to China and meets Mao Zedong. Would a President Eugene McCarthy have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader?

On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of the conservative Likud Party, not the liberal Labour Party of Yitzhak Rabin or the centrist party of Yigael Yadin.

In the 1980 Election, candidate Ronald Reagan ran for president against Jimmy Carter railing against Iran and called Russia the Evil Empire, but later the Reagan Administration coordinated the infamous Iran-Contra deal with Iran, and Reagan sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev on multiple occasions. To paraphrase my earlier rhetorical question, would President Jimmy Carter have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader? Or a President Mike Dukakis?

We already discussed that in the Anglo-Irish peace process, nothing mattered -not only Gerry Adams came to the table- but moreover, the Agreement didn’t truly matter until Paisleyists took ownership of the new government. When political extremists like Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, or even Yassir Arafat as another example, when the political extremists (or even terrorists or former terrorists) participated in peace talks, THAT’S when peace happens. Hardline soundbites like, “The US does not negotiate with terrorists” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different.

I would even point out that it was a conservative US Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), but on the other hand, there hasn’t been a liberal SCOTUS since the Warren Court ended in 1969. More to the point, it was also the transitionally conservative Burger Court that legalized abortion, banned the death penalty… most recently, it was the conservative Roberts Court that not only legalized same-sex marriage as mentioned before but also confirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

[As I said, hardline soundbites like, “No ‘bamacare” and “Repeal Obamacare” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different when a person or a party has to govern, not just criticize. Heck, the repeal shouters even changed their mantra to “Repeal and Replace,” and it’s still the law of the land… but I digress.]

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Back in 2008, former Presidential candidate William J. Bennett wrote in the National Review: “Barack Obama’s position on negotiating with U.S. enemies betrays a profound misreading of history,” adding that if Obama were to meet with Iranian officials, “he will lower the prestige of the office of the president.”

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And now we have, not kimchi, but Kim-Trump: The Singapore Summit. The reclusive leader of one of the most reclusive regimes in the world, travelled 3,067 miles to meet with the man who has described Kim as:

“North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons.”
~Sept. 16, 2015~

“Rocket Man [who] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
~September 19, 2017~

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea… is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people”
~September 22, 2017~

And, finally, on November 11, 2017, the President of the United States referred to Chairman Kim as “short and fat.” Perhaps even the same words General George Washington used to describe King George III or perhaps it was what Abraham Lincoln called Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis?

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When US President George W. Bush uttered that infamous phrase ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, it got all of our attention. For some of us who follow international relations closely, personally I wondered why “W” baited the Iranians since the Iranian government had just shared their intelligence on Afghanistan with the US military in September and October of 2001… just 3 months earlier… but anyway…

Most people, and the media, we knew what he meant, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Libyans, and the North Koreans… the Bush Administration was serving notice to these rogue states. In fact, one of those rogue-states, Libya, straight-up capitulated and offered to give up its WMDs programs. To an extent, it hurts me to admit it, but the Libyan reaction to the 2002 speech is an example of saber-rattling actually working as an instrument of peace, to an extent.**

  • Libya, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil. Done. Credit given to Bush 43.
  • Saddam’s Iraq, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Done. Credit (as it were) given to Bush 43.
  • Iran, neutralized by the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework. **Done. Credit: none.

What???? The Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And they were *all* somehow duped?

Under the Corker-Cardin framework establishing oversight of the Iran deal, Congress could vote to approve or disapprove of a final deal, determining whether Obama has the authority to temporarily lift Iran sanctions needed to implement the Agreement. If Congress fails to pass disapproval of the deal — or if Congress does pass a disapproval measure, then fails to override Obama’s veto of it — the deal would move forward.

And it did. The Corker-Cardin framework provided Congress with the right to review the Iran Agreement, regardless of what you’ve heard spun by the pundits.

~~~

No sitting-President of either political party has ever met with the leaders of North Korea. This policy was to avoid legitimizing a rogue-state as well as to hold onto that strategic carrot in order to draw concessions from North Korea. And now, like the US Embassy move in Israel, the United States has given up a negotiating item, for apparently nothing in return. But, the reaction to Trump’s meeting with the dictator of North Korea?

Senator McConnell praised the “historic first step” and noted that it was “the beginning of the arduous process,” but he said, “I support the goals contained in the statement and I remain supportive of the administration’s mission.” On the Iran Agreement, Mitch McConnell criticizes Iran nuke deal as “windfall” for Tehran…

On the Iran Agreement, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said, “It is an agreement that will reward a violent, terrorist regime. Instead of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, it merely delays it. This deal is shortsighted and dangerous for our security.” But of the Trump-Kim Summit, Rounds said: “Good news coming from Singapore. @POTUS has made early strides in making our world a safer place. A lot of work to do yet.”

And how about this for sarcastic bitterness:

Of Obama and the Iran Agreement, Jim Risch (R-ID) said: “This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires.”

And of Trump and North Korea? Risch said “If Barack Obama had accomplished what Donald Trump just accomplished, they’d be calling for the stonemasons to get out to Mount Rushmore and put off his head on Mount Rushmore. This is a historic occasion.”

Hahahahahaahhaha…..

Personally, I’m kinda wondering what exactly Trump *has* accomplished besides a handshake that North Korea has been seeking for decades, and now the regime received without capitulating on anything.

On Trump and North Korea, Sen. James Inhofe (OK) said “I do not trust Iran who has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism for generations, and I have no faith that President Obama’s deal will change the irrational and dangerous behaviors of Iran’s government leaders,” so I guess I’m really curious how Inhofe feels about Kim and his country’s history of bank fraud, cyberterrorism, saber-rattling and breaking of promises to South Korea as well as US Presidents of both political parties….

Here ya go: Of Trump and North Korea, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) even said “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen,” and even praised Trump for being the first person to ever get Kim Jong-un’s attention and for playing him “like a fiddle.”

Really? Inhofe knows this already? Isn’t it equally possible that Kim played Trump like a fiddle?

The truth is that we won’t know for a long time whether President Trump gave away the cow for free, or if he was the one who started the North Koreans down the road to peaceful coexistence. John Delury, a North Korea watcher and professor at Yonsei University, thinks that it’s even possible that Kim Jung Un is creating a détente with the United States to pivot out of China’s orbit. At this point, who knows? Certainly not I…

But what I do know, is that there is a hypocrisy in the rightwing media (not that there’s not a blindness in the leftwing media on other issues), that there is a selectivity in history and an inconsistency in opinion on international rapprochement initiatives.

Perhaps it’s just partisanship? Or perhaps it’s just that the worst of partisanship is what ultimately becomes the dominant narrative in history. I hope not.

As I said, the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And somehow *all* six parties are incompetent and have somehow duped?

To be fair, North Korea and Iran are not in the same place in their nuclear research and capabilities. And that’s some of the reason for the confusing messages out of some conservatives. After all, North Korea’s research has been entirely weapons-based, so *if* (and that’s a huge if) North Korea stopped its nuclear weapons research, then it would be stopping all of its current nuclear work.

Iran’s nuclear research is much more sophisticated and more of a dual-tracked research. Iran has civilian nuclear research programs as well, so the Agreement honors civilian research.

So, on Trump and North Korea:

Sen. Jon Ernst (R-IA) can say that she was “excited about the opportunity.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) can say the “critical summit is happening because of President Trump’s leadership and unwavering resolve to make the world a safer place,” and added that “[t]he Trump Administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) can say a “big opportunity” and “clearly there has been progress.”

But on Iran, the same three said:

Ernst: “This to me is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran…This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities.”

Purdue: “This deal won’t prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state — it just delays it,” and “As I’ve said all along, I cannot support any deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”

Sullivan: “Principal objective of Iran negotiations was to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This #IranDeal does NOT do that.”

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These statements, to me, are a lot more consistent than the statements by Inhofe, Risch, Rounds, and McConnell…

Ernst, Purdue, and Sullivan are correct. The Iran Agreement does not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 10 years if the Iranians want to. It was never intended to. The Agreement was intended to create breathing room, for Iran to be integrated into the world economy for a period of ten years, so that, as a member of the world economy, there would be a disincentive for Iran to throw those incentives away after ten years of participation in the international system.

Whereas the Trump Administration has, at this point, not offered North Korea the path to peaceful nuclear technology as Iran has been guaranteed, and at this point North Korea is still expected to terminate its nuclear weapon programs in perpetuity as South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and the former Soviet Republics outside of Russia have all done.

Two different nation-states. Two different nuclear programs.

So, the issue isn’t so much about the “deal” but about the reception of engagement with rogue leaders and rogue states.

  • Nixon meets Mao, and is praised.
  • Reagan meets Gorbachev, and is praised.
  • But Clinton normalizes relations with Vietnam, and its criticized.
  • Clinton allows Gerry Adams a visa to the US as part of the Northern Irish Peace Process, and its criticized.
  • Bush pressures UK PM Tony Blair to release the PanAm 103 bombers to reward Libya, and its ignored by the public.
  • Obama normalizes relations with Cuba, and its criticized.

Yes, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro, and it’s the end of the world, but President Donald Trump shakes hands with the leader of a rogue state one called a member of the Axis of Evil by President George W. Bush and…

Sen. Jim Inhofe says “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen.”

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The two most consistent voices have been Ben Shapiro and Jim Geraghty:

“I’m not certain why meeting with Kim without preconditions is suddenly a grand coup when we would have gone nuts had Obama done the same,” said conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who criticized Obama back in 2009 and is now often critical of Trump.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wondered the same. “Remember how much we condemned then-senator Barack Obama’s pledge to ‘meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?’ That wasn’t wrong,” Geraghty wrote.

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Yes, Conservative Rapprochement Bias is a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. While “not fair” it is none the less true that there is a pattern in politics, sociology, psychology, and religion that the seminal events are most often decided when those with the narrowest perspective agree to change or compromise.

As Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.” And here we go again…