The Corner

Obama’s Politics, America’s Paralysis

Did domestic political considerations influence Obama’s Iran deal? Some say the president’s looking for a distraction from the Obamacare rollout fiasco and wants an accomplishment to tout now that he’s down. I doubt that either of these motives are prime drivers of this ill-conceived agreement. More important is Obama’s ideological commitment to reducing America’s role in the world and his consequent desire to contain, rather than stop, an Iranian bomb.

Insofar as domestic politics figures into the equation, I suspect it’s less about distracting from Obamacare or bragging about a deal than simply preventing the political consequences of a conflict with Iran. Obama’s domestic support is down to his hardcore base. No group of Americans would be more opposed to a potentially violent American face-off with a weaponizing Iran than Obama’s diehard supporters. To the extent that the current American political scene factors into this agreement, it’s about Obama’s fear of a military conflict that would alienate his fast-shrinking base.

Had the Obamacare rollout gone swimmingly, the president would have had a bit more breathing room on Iran. Yet with a shrinking base already livid with dismay over the health-care disaster, Obama knew that a showdown with Iran would be politically untenable. Combine that with the fact that Obama and his base are in perfect agreement on the substance of Iran policy, and you get this misconceived deal.

Americans are weary of war and few on any political side were inclined to bail Obama out of his Syrian “red line” misadventure. Yet there is still a strong constituency for taking action when core American interests are threatened. That constituency, unfortunately, stands largely outside of Obama’s base.

To the extent that this analysis is valid, it means that as long as Obamacare is on life-support (for the next three years, by most accounts), Obama’s policy inclinations and political survival alike will conspire to dictate American weakness on the world scene. With Obama down to his dovish core supporters, we are paralyzed abroad.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and can be reached at


Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More