Mr. Schumer’s forceful decision not to approve the Iran/Putin/Obama deal has been called a “break in the dike.” Democrats in the recent past have tended to march in lockstep with President Barack Obama. Mr. Schumer is a threatening crack in Democratic foreign policy obduracy. It is just through such cracks in the political asphalt, said Alexander Solzhenitsyn, that lonely flowers bloom.
Though he has expressed misgivings, Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, has decided to support the deal; his doubts may be a sign of moral and foreign policy sanity. Then again, perhaps Mr. Murphy’s reservations – he’s not quite sure the Iranians with whom Mr. Obama has made common cause are honorable – represent little more than a rhetorical fig leaf, an exit plan should Iranian leaders prove by deeds that their words -- Death to America! – are more reliable than instantaneously revised deals with “the Great Satan.” In Islam, it is considered a manly virtue to lie persuasively to great and lesser Satans, and the Iranians have shown themselves to be almost saintly in this regard. The consequences that flow from such deals do not appear for some time, and modern politicians are used to acting in the moment without fear of consequences, however predictable.
Mr. Blumenthal has been brooding over the question: to deal, or not to deal? Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman use to be called, somewhat disdainfully, “the Hamlet of the Senate,” because he was known for having chewed over issues of moment too often and too long. Mr. Blumenthal is a worthy competitor in this regard. Hamlet, it will be recalled, dithered over the existential question “to be, or not to be?” Some would insist that the leaders of Israel are entertaining exactly the same dreadful question. Jewish and Catholics politicians are prone to dither over the cognate question: to be, or not to be Jewish or Catholic? For reasons not fully examined, Protestants don’t have this problem and, of course, the Islamic faithful know exactly who they are.
Mr. Schumer’s decision, the break in the dike, occurred pretty much at the same time Mr. Obama, a non-repentant perpetual campaigner, announced that Republicans who were offering some resistance to the president’s deal with the ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei were, in fact, making “common cause” with unnamed Iranian “hardliners.” All the Iranians are hardliners, and none are so unyielding as those who made deals with American Presidents and feckless Secretaries of State. It was as if British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, having returned from Germany following his tete a tete with Adolf Hitler and waving his “deal” under the noses of his political opponents, were to label as “hardline” Nazis everyone In Britain whose views of Hitler were more firmly grounded in objective reality than his own.
Mr. Schumer’s lucid objections to the Khamenei-Obama pact cannot fit on a bumper sticker nor should they be comfortably dismissed by proponents of the deal as Jewish propaganda written by The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful American pro-Israeli lobbying group. Connecticut born New York Times editorial writer Carol Giacomo supposes that Mr. Schumer is cribbing from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican opponents who believe Mr. Obama put in the poke he bought the very pig he is now fitfully trying to sell to politically nervous Democrats.
Mr. Schumer isn’t buying it.
Mr. Blumenthal likely is not buying it either, though party loyalty, the equivalent of politeness in a non-savage society, has caused him to bite his tongue; that and the dread suspicion that any support of Israel, however necessary, might paint him into the most uncomfortable corner for a political Jew or Catholic – that of a supporter of Israel or Papist Rome. John Kennedy solved this problem by sloughing off his Catholicism.
When Hillarie Belloc, a fierce orthodox Catholic, was running for a seat in Parliament, he was accosted by a woman on the campaign trail who called him a Papist, at which he reached into his pocket, fetched his rosary beads, shook them above his head and said, “Madam, do you see these beads? I pray on them every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up. And if that offends you madam, I pray God He spare me the IGNOMINY of representing you in Parliament.”
The retort was a bit edgy, but it pointed to a man with a spine. Sooner or later, Mr. Blumenthal, the Hamlet of the Senate, may find his.