Morning Plum: Trump has a better answer on Iran than his GOP rivals do. Seriously.
By Greg Sargent September 4
Trump captures the nation’s attention as he campaigns.
The presidential candidate and billionaire businessman leads the field of candidates in the Republican race.
On Morning Joe today, Donald Trump staked out another position that could — or at least should — force a real debate among Republicans that previously might have remained mostly walled off from discussion by GOP orthodoxy. This time the topic was Iran.
Trump all but ridiculed his GOP rivals for their claim that on Day One, they would promptly tear up the Iran deal into little pieces and flush them down the toilet, along with the rest of the Obama presidency. Trump said that “life doesn’t work that way,” and vowed instead to do a better job implementing it than anyone else, claiming: “I will be so tough.”
Asked by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius how he’d approach the Iran deal as president, here’s what Trump said:
“I think that it is a disastrous deal in so many ways…we have a horrible contract. But we do have a contract. I love to buy bad contracts when people go bust and I make those contracts good….
“I know it would be very popular for me to do what a couple of them said, ‘we’re gonna rip it up, we’re gonna rip it up.’…
“Iran is gonna be an absolute terror, and it’s horrible that we have to live with it. Nevertheless, we have a contract. We lost the power of sanctions because all of these other folks, these other countries that are with us are gone now, and by the way, making money…everybody is involved now with Iran selling themselves. We’re probably going to be the only ones that won’t be selling them anything….
“I will make that agreement so tough. And if they break it, they will have hell to pay….Politically, and certainly for the nomination, I would love to tell you that I’m gonna rip up this contract, I’m going to be the toughest guy in the world. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.”
Buried in that rambling monologue is an actual argument: unilaterally scrapping the Iran agreement is a pipe dream that would have all kinds of negative consequences, leaving the U.S. isolated, as our allies would not see it in their interests to reimpose sanctions; claiming you’d rip up the deal is politically pleasing, but it is an illusory posture of “toughness”; the more responsible and genuinely “tough” position is to vow to implement the deal with extreme vigilance against Iran cheating.
Thus far, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have both vowed to scrap the Iran deal immediately. When Jeb Bush took the preposterous step of questioning whether this is realistic, it sparked a skirmish between him and Walker that approximated an actual debate. Now Trump has gone further than Jeb in suggesting that on Iran, his rivals are, well, full of it.
As I have argued, Trump’s willingness to say things other Republicans won’t has forced out into the open real policy debates among Republicans that had previously remained shrouded in deliberate vagueness for political reasons or off limits due to party dogma. His call for mass deportations has unmasked GOP evasions over what to do about the 11 million, forcing an actual debate on that question. His call for raising taxes on capital gains — in contrast with his rivals — may test the proposition that GOP primary voters want their candidates to support reducing the tax burden of the rich.
On Iran, most of the GOP candidates — whatever their substantive objections to the deal — seem to be operating from the premise that they are dogmatically required to vow to undo it on Day One. But is that really required? Matthew Dowd, a senior adviser to George W. Bush, has suggested that the better political argument might be that only a GOP president can be trusted to implement it with the proper vigilance.
Indeed, on Morning Joe, the Post’s Ignatius suggested: “Trump has just stated what will become by the end of the campaign the consensus Republican position.” Maybe, maybe not. One hopes, at least, that the GOP candidates will be asked to respond to the (relative) logic of Trump’s argument as to why vowing to scrap the deal is absurd and what might constitute a more realistic GOP position, and we’ll get a real debate on this, too.
All of this is good that the politicians have to get into the weeds and who knows they might find some wheat!
Another one of those Obamacare moments with the Iran Deal: Nancy Pelosi says to the Democrats:!