Obama Has Given Up Debating, Contd.

by Patrick Brennan

A few weeks ago, Charlie noted that President Obama’s answer to why liberals could trust he would negotiate an Asian trade deal that’s good for the middle class basically amounted to, “Look, it’s me. I love the middle class.” (This has greatly irritated the liberals asking him the question, such as Elizabeth Warren.)

Now he tries that debating tactic on an even more momentous question: whether we can trust him to negotiate a deal with Iran. His argument in a new interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg basically amounts to: “Settle on a deal that would ruin my foreign-policy legacy? But I want to have a good legacy.”

On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

Very reassuring. (The rest of the interview is worth reading, too.)