Here is what the Iran deal—and Obama—are up against

It is no secret—since they announced it—that AIPAC is spending several millions of dollars to defeat the Iran agreement. Obama has called them on it—rightly so. AIPAC should be registered as a lobbyist for a foreign government, which would curtail their spending and their lobbying of Congress.

Obama made reference to this spending in his American University speech and to inaccurate statements being made about the agreement. Now AIPAC and other opponents are hitting back themselves--and with the assistance of the NYTimes, "Fears of Lasting Rifts..."

[T]he tone of the current dispute is raising concerns among some of Mr. Obama’s allies who say it is a new low in relations between Aipac and the White House. They say they are worried that, in working to counter Aipac’s tactics and discredit its claims about the nuclear accord with Iran, the president has gone overboard in criticizing the group and like-minded opponents of the deal.

Except for administration officials defending the president, the story quotes officials of AIPAC and other organizations supporting Israel and opposing the agreement. You can bet there are many people in Washington the Times could have turned to for this story with, shall we say, a more nuanced view.

The NYTimes is not of one mind on the Iran deal. From the editorial page editor's blog, Taking Note.

Fun Chart: 2014 lobbying U.S by AIPAC: $3.06 M; 2014 lobbying U.S. by Israel $2.47 M.

MORE: Andrew Bacevich at the LATimes has these observations (nothing on gay marriage!):

The real issue is this: When it comes to the Middle East, will the United States persist in failure or will it try something different? This deal with Iran is the most prominent indication to date that Obama is serious about embracing the latter. This duck may be lame but he's far from dead.

The White House wants the president's American University speech to be compared to one that President John F. Kennedy made there in 1963 when he proposed limits on nuclear testing. A better comparison just might be to President Ronald Reagan's willingness in the 1980s to reach out to the leader of what Reagan himself called the Evil Empire. His partnership with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev changed history. It's the possibility that Obama might accomplish something similar that has his critics so upset.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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