What if President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, unable to procure a good outcome for the West, simply walked away from a nuclear deal with Iran?

President Obama's critics would have to admit that such a move, though highly unlikely, took guts when the president had staked so much of his reputation on it. Oddly, it would actually burnish the president's reputation. It would show that national defense is more important to him than his legacy (thus, ironically, adding immeasureably to his legacy).

Dream on.  I detect a weary sense of resignation in this very good Washington Post editorial, which warns that Iran's past cheating on agreements is a "worrying omen."  The editorial begins:

IF IT is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented; it will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.

Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging. The United States and its allies will have to be aggressive in countering the inevitable Iranian attempts to test the accord and willing to insist on consequences even if it means straining relations with friendly governments or imposing costs on Western companies.

The editorial goes on to state that Iran managed to meet compliance with the interim accord for this deal only by some very shifty accounting for nuclear material. And the Obama administration was outraged, right? Not at all:

Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense — and heatedly attack the institute as well as a report in the New York Times.

The Washington Post may be optimistic in accepting that the agreement would delay Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon ten or fifteen years.

Overall the editorial from a newspaper that is not exactly a conservative bastion must be taken as an indication of just how bad a situation the negotiations might be creating.