Iran Is Hillary Problem

The high-profile battle over Congressional efforts to extend and strengthen sanctions against Iran if it fails to dismantle its nuclear weapons program has ominous implications for Hillary’s likely 2016 candidacy.

Dick Morris 3

Obama’s high-profile veto threat, delivered in his State of the Union speech last week, has elevated this issue to the point where it has become the most important early battle between the new Republican Congress and President Obama.

Even if the Democrats in the Senate cave on this issue and try to delay a sanctions vote, the stark contrast between the Republicans and Obama on the issue has made it a key national issue that is likely to have a life of its own as we move into 2016.

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This polarization has made it increasingly impossible for Hillary to fudge her position on sanctions as she has been doing for years. Recognizing this fact, right after Obama spoke, Hillary backed him up calling further Congressional action on sanctions a “serious strategic error” and warning that it would “guarantee diplomacy fails” and that it might be the “catalyst for the collapse of negotiations.”

In the past, Hillary has publicly proclaimed her backing for tough sanctions and even taken credit for their effectiveness. But all the while she has been privately sending her lobbyists up to Capitol Hill to battle against them.

In fact, when Congress was considering the most effective of the sanctions imposed on Iran, legislation that targeted Iran’s Central Bank and made it more difficult for Tehran to sell its oil, Hillary sent her people up to the Hill to testify against the proposals.

They argued that making it more difficult for Iran to sell oil might drive up its prices and unintentionally give Iran a windfall profit. Wendy Sherman, Hillary’s Under Secretary explained this convoluted logic saying there absolutely is a risk that the price of oil would go up which would mean that Iran would, in fact, have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less.”

We all know how that worked out.

But while Hillary’s people pushed Congress to go slow on sanctions, she took credit for their effectiveness in her book Hard Choices. Until now, she has been able to have it both ways: Seeming to back sanctions while really opposing them.

But with a high-profile confrontation looming between Congress and Obama over sanctions, Hillary’s deft dance can no longer be sustained. If Congress passes sanctions and Obama, with Hillary’s approbation, vetoes the legislation (and it is not overridden) then Hillary will have made herself responsible for the outcome of the process. If Iran does go nuclear or refuses to dismantle any of its centrifuges, Hillary will have to defend the Ayatollah’s actions from the campaign trail, a hazardous undertaking for a candidate for president.

Democrats had hoped that the first big confrontation between the newly elected Republican congress and the president would come over a government shutdown where the administration could portray their opponents as in the grip of the tea party. For their part, Republicans sought to avoid the shutdown trap and were looking toward the Keystone Pipeline as the leading issue.

But now Iran sanctions have come to the fore and loom large on center stage.

And Hillary is tied to Obama on the issue. Where he goes, she will follow.

The careful distancing of herself from the failures in administration foreign policy is no longer an option for Hillary. Appeasing Iran is her plan now.

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