Op-ed: A deal not yet sealed

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, July 18, 2015 2:55pm
  • Opinion

I have a confession to make: In my entire life, I have never watched “Let’s Make a Deal.” At least until now. But in the past few days, the deals have been impossible to ignore. Greece has been bludgeoned into a bargain with the other eurozone nations that will attempt to rescue the country from financial collapse. Frankly, it’s humiliating to a government that promised to lighten up already painful austerity, but if the country wants to stay afloat — that is to say, have any money whatsoever — that’s the choice: political disgrace or disaster.

Speaking of political disgrace, the powers-that-be in Washington are just now getting their hands on the momentous deal the United States and other world powers negotiated with Iran. After years of hand-wringing and tedious discussions, Tehran has agreed to long-term significant limitations on its ability to construct nuclear weaponry. In return, the U.S. and other world powers will phase out brutal economic sanctions.

President Barack Obama is staking his legacy on this deal. So what does that mean, everyone? It means, of course, that every Republican is against it. Never mind the merits or demerits of it, and there are plenty to argue about, the reactions were entirely predictable, even before anyone had a chance to read it. Nobody who is running for the GOP has anything but scorn for it. Add to that a large number of nervous Democrats, and President Obama has a major job on his hands, certainly during the 60 days that Congress has to approve the deal or reject it.

Why are the Democrats so uptight? The big reason is that the Israelis hate it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it his personal crusade to sabotage the agreement, both during the negotiations and certainly now. The Israelis have a huge amount of clout in our political world; putting it another way, many of those who are officeholders or want to be are almost as frightened of antagonizing Israel and its supporters here as they are of ticking off the NRA.

Pile on the antagonism of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that are just as terrified of Iran, and it seems like the only words of outright support for the deal were coming out of the White House and Tehran. Even in Iran, the hard-liners were steamed.

So get ready for a true hard sell from everyone. Obama’s is already well under way. “Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation,” he told reporters, “or it’s resolved through force, through war.”

Republicans already are plotting out their own war, adding the Iran deal to the list of evils foisted upon America by this president. It joins Obamacare and, of course, immigration, to say nothing of gay marriage, on the conservative list of abominations.

The Republican presidential candidates will be traipsing around during their August break promising that they will repeal the deal when they take over, along with all the rest of that loathsome stuff.

At least the Iran deal momentarily took the spotlight off of Donald Trump, even as he announced that his financial net worth is about TEN BILLION DOLLARS (his caps). Whether that’s fantasy or not, he did co-write “The Art of the Deal,” so his comments on Iran actually might be worth hearing. Here’s a surprise: He was against it, criticizing the president for negotiating “from desperation,” which is a big no-no.

Whatever. This deal with Iran is bigger than even The Donald, assuming it gets past Congress — and that is a big if. But if it does, it will become an integral part of the Barack Obama legacy, as either a shining part of his history or a serious stain.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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