President Obama's breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear program should be welcomed by everyone, and yet top Republicans spent Monday insisting that the Administration is just trying to "wag the dog."
"The nuke deal has dominated political talk, which means the focus has shifted away from Obamacare," Fox News host Heather Childers said on Monday morning. "This is now sparking many to believe that it is yet another attempt to distract from the disastrous rollout and the looming deadline to get the site up and running at full speed."
While her opinion could be easily dismissed as the rambling of yet another empty-minded talking head, Childers was not alone in this sentiment.
"Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care," Senator John Cornyn wrote on Twitter over the weekend. Cornyn is the Senate Minority Whip for the Republican party, and not a tea party outlier like his Texas counterpart Ted Cruz. Reacting to Cornyn, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe retorted: "No, a real distraction would be war. Like Iraq."
Cornyn certainly does not think the Iraq War was a distraction. I was with several peace activists who confronted Cornyn in 2007 outside a Texas Republican Party fundraiser, each demanding the Senator reconsider his ardent support for the continued U.S. occupation there.
Peace activists confront Senator Cornyn in Texas. Photo: Stephen C. Webster.
While friendly, he rebuffed the peace activists' concerns by invoking images of mass graves filled with the bodies of Iraqis killed on Saddam Hussein's orders. To him, Saddam's phantom weapons of mass destruction were not the primary motivation for invading Iraq. Years after the Bush Administration's primary argument for war was debunked, he held fast to the notion that war was worthwhile to protect civilians, such as the Kurds, from Iraq's former dictator.
So too did he oppose ending the occupation, agreeing with Senator Joe Lieberman that the withdrawal was "profoundly disappointing." And it came as little surprise when Cornyn also opposed the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense on the grounds that Hagel seemed hesitant to cheerlead for war with Iran.
However, speaking to an audience at the AIPAC 2013 Policy Conference in March, Cornyn seemed to suggest that a peaceful resolution with Iran is possible if a "credible" threat of military action remains in place.
"In short: Stopping the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons is not optional," he said. "To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher: There is no alternative."
In securing an agreement this week, President Obama's diplomatic team has successfully impeded Iran's progress on a nuclear weapon and seemingly removed the threat of a military strike on the nation, all in one fell swoop.
For Cornyn to call the president's diplomatic breakthrough a distraction is worse than pathetic; it's duplicitous. In doing so, the Senator offers a distraction all his own, seemingly in hopes of directing attention away from his long record of cheerleading for war.
Photo: Flickr user US Army Africa, creative commons licensed.