Quote of the Day:

On Tuesday, Bibi Netanyahu gave the speech of his life before a joint session of Congress — and he has Barack Obama to thank for it.

John Podhoretz in the New York Post

I urge you to read John Podhoretz’s excellent column on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarkable address before Congress yesterday.

We saw a serious man pleading for the United States not to complete a bad deal with Iran that immediately would threaten the very existence of his country and ultimately the safety of the world.  

In a way, the Podhoretz column does fall slightly into our current mode of seeing everything in the world in terms of how it affects Barack Obama. I am reminded of the old joke that the world ends and a liberal newspaper’s headline is “World Ends. Women and Minorities Hit Hardest.”

If the world ended today, I can almost hear a pundit on CNN saying, with his last breath, “This is undeniably going to have an impact on President Obama, isn’t it, Gloria?”  Narcissism seems to be contagious. Who knew?

But yesterday, the contrast between Netanyahu and Obama was likely in the back (or front) of the minds of many listeners and it was also, as Podhoretz points out, President Obama’s smear campaign to shut down Netanyahu’s address that made it all the more an event. Podhoretz writes:

The White House even tried to engineer a mass Democratic boycott of the speech, an effort that either (take your pick) met with success because 50 members of his party agreed to it, or was a failure because 75 percent of elected Democrats on Capitol Hill defied him and chose to attend.

What did all of this do? It made the Netanyahu speech the most important political event of 2015 by far.

It elevated Netanyahu’s powerful case against a nuclear deal with Iran to the highest level possible — so that the leader of a country of 8 million people roughly the size of New Jersey now possesses as much authority to discuss the issue as the leader of the Free World.

Obama’s own national-security mouthpiece, Ben Rhodes, has said the White House views a deal with Iran as “biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”

Obama’s fit of pique against Netanyahu has led to a man-to-man showdown that will likely complicate that “biggest thing” immensely.

Netanyahu yesterday laid out calmly and comprehensively the reasons the deal is likely to be a bad one — and he had not only an audience of Americans vastly larger than he would’ve had if the president hadn’t had his hissy fit, but also the ear of the audience that matters most in this regard.

That audience is the United States Senate.

Former speechwriter Peter Wehner gives the Netanyahu address high marks for style and content, calling it "a masterpiece." Wehner gives excellent bullets on the main points of the speech and then deliver the coup de grace:

Unlike President Obama, who never engages the argument of his critics in an honest manner, Prime Minister Netanyahu fairly (if briefly) stated the arguments of those with whom he disagrees. And he proceeded to deal with them in a methodical, empirical, logical way, which of course explains why Mr. Obama fought so hard to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from speaking in the first place.

For President Obama, the deal with Iran is a legacy matter and also likely his attempt at restructuring the Middle East. He seems to believe that if the mullahs know that the United States is passive they will become nicer. If it works out badly, then President Obama, out of office, will blame somebody else.

For Netanyahu, by contrast, the deal represents not a matter of prestige or vainglory but of very survival of his nation, the only Jewish nation in the world, as he reminded us yesterday. (By the way, while our own president hands down won the award yesterday for pettiest world leader, it was CNN’s own Gloria Borgia who took the Oscar for pettiest pundit response to the speech. Ms. Borgia opined that Netanyahu’s introducing Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who stood for two ovations, yesterday was politicizing the address!)

While Israel would be most immediately affected by a bad deal with Iran, ultimately we all will, as Thomas Sowell points out:

The old advertising slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” may or may not have been true. But surely the West should know by now that what happens in the Middle East does not stay in the Middle East. Throwing Israel to the wolves and signing agreements with Iran will not buy “peace in our time” and allow us to further shrink the military and expand the welfare state.


President Obama went out of his way to say he hadn’t watched this historic speech—which says a lot about him. An important speech is given in Washington about a matter of world import, and our president has better things to do. His churlish claim that the Netanyahu speech was nothing new was that of a small man who doesn’t shrink from a nuclear Iran as a legacy item.

But here is what Netanyahu did: he deconstructed the Iran deal and he did it without using classified information (which, at any rate, the Obama administration is reported to be no longer sharing with our strongest ally in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal explains:

Point by point, he dismantled the emerging details and assumptions of what he called a “very bad deal.” The heart of his critique concerned the nature of the Iranian regime as a terror sponsor of long-standing that has threatened to “annihilate” Israel and is bent on regional domination.

The Administration argues that a nuclear accord will help move the revolutionary regime toward moderation. But Mr. Netanyahu spent some 15 minutes laying out the regime’s historical record. Since Hasan Rouhani became president in 2013, Iran’s internal repression has become worse than in the days of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad . Iran has doubled down on its military support for Bashar Assad in Syria, gained control of north Yemen through its Houthi militia proxies, and continued to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Shiite militias in Iraq.

Mr. Netanyahu noted that the pending deal would lift the economic sanctions that have driven Iran to the negotiating table. “Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger?” Mr. Netanyahu asked. “Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both worlds: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?” These are good questions that the Administration should be obliged to answer.

Netanyahu also pointed out that the putative deal will allow Iran to keep its “already robust nuclear infrastructure.” The Obama administration should, as the Wall Street Journal argues, be obliged to answer these questions. So far it hasn’t, and one can legitimately fear that it won’t. Iran’s willingness or unwillingness to sign a deal may be the administration’s only concern.

Sanctions were working and indeed it was the effect of the sanctions that brought Iran to negotiate. Sanctions would have an even greater effect on the mullahs’ regime with the collapse of oil prices. It is a shame that Barack Obama was the person in charge when the free world had a chance to thwart the world’s leading purveyor of terror.