Obama’s using capital to persuade Congress to avoid sanctions but opponents are nearing a veto-proof majority

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Obama’s using capital to persuade Congress to avoid sanctions but opponents are nearing a veto-proof majority

Riechmann, 12-29—Deb, AP writer, “Obama doesn't rule out opening US embassy in Iran; Congress planning January vote on sanctions,” MN Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/286993011.html --BR

While President Barack Obama hasn't ruled out the possibility of reopening a U.S. Embassy in Iran, Republicans say the Senate will vote within weeks on a bill to impose more sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program. Obama was asked in an NPR interview broadcast on Monday whether he could envision opening an embassy there during his final two years in office. "I never say never," Obama said, adding that U.S. ties with Tehran must be restored in steps. Washington and its partners are hoping to clinch a deal with Iran by July that would set long-term limits on Iran's enrichment of uranium and other activity that could produce material for use in nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for energy production and medical research purposes. It has agreed to some restrictions in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from U.S. economic sanctions. On a visit to Israel on Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the new Republican-controlled Senate will vote on an Iran sanctions bill in January. He said the bipartisan sanction legislation says: "If Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be re-imposed. If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be re-imposed." Graham also is sponsoring legislation that would require any deal with Iran to be approved by Congress before sanctions could be lifted. Standing alongside Graham, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Iran a "dangerous regime" that should be prevented from having nuclear weapons. "I believe that what is required are more sanctions, and stronger sanctions," Netanyahu said. The Obama administration has been telling members of Congress that it has won significant concessions from Iran for recently extending nuclear talks, including promises by the Islamic republic to allow snap inspections of its facilities and to neutralize much of its remaining uranium stockpile. Administration officials have been presenting the Iranian concessions to lawmakers in the hopes of convincing them to support the extension and hold off on new economic sanctions that could derail the diplomatic effort. Obama has threatened to veto any new sanctions legislation while American diplomats continue their push for an accord that would set multiyear limits on Iran's nuclear progress in exchange for an easing of the international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Senate hawks are still trying to build a veto-proof majority of 67 votes with Republicans set to assume the majority next month. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., told Fox News Sunday that Senate Republicans might have enough backing from Democrats to pass veto-proof legislation that would impose more sanctions on Iran. "The good thing about those votes, they will be really bipartisan votes," he said. "I have 17 Democrats with me. . We have a shot at even getting to a veto-proof majority in the Senate."

The plan’s a political landmine and a waste of political capital

Sullivan, 12—Andrew, one of the most widely syndicated columnists in the USA, “The Silent Stoner President, Ctd,” The Dish, http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2012/11/27/the-silent-stoner-president-ctd/ -- BR

That old footage you showed of Obama speaking in favor of decriminalization in 2004 reminded me of one of the weirdest Obama videos I've ever seen. It's from the summer of 2007 when he was running for president and in it someone on a rope line in New Hampshire asked what his stance was regarding medical marijuana. You can tell right away from Obama's body language that he really doesn't want to answer this question, presumably because he thinks it's a political landmine. Then the oddest thing happens, and I had to watch it a few times to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. You can see Reggie Love in the background apparently listening to an earpiece, which I'm assuming must be radioed directly to somebody like Gibbs or Axelrod or some other adviser. Reggie hears something in the earpiece and suddenly has to get Obama's attention in the middle of this guy's question and not-so-smoothly transfers the ear piece to Obama, who then pauses, and after a few beats apparently parrots back the stock answer coming to him in his ear. Obama's response was that the Feds cracking down on state medical marijuana operations wouldn't be a worthwhile use of federal resources. But never mind the answer, which didn't seem like his own. To me, it was one of those rare times where you see the politically calculated side rather than the casual authenticity that usually comes across in him, and the sense I got was that whatever Obama's actual position on marijuana is, he's not about to let that be the issue that he wastes political capital on. That's not going to be the issue that prevents him from becoming president and fixing everything else that he cares more about. As a big Obama supporter back in the summer of '07, I wouldn't have dared point out this video before Obama won the Democratic primaries, the election in 2008, or the recent reelection, but now that we're on the other side of all three, I couldn't help but pass along the footage. Above is some footage closer to the real Obama.

Obama’s capital is do or die—failure triggers war

Winsor, 14 (Ben, “A Coalition Is Working Furiously Behind The Scenes To Support Obama's Iran Talks,” Oct 2, http://www.businessinsider.com/rag-tag-iran-coalition-backing-diplomacy-2014-10)

Since November 2013, the Obama administration has engaged with Iran in tense, drawn-out nuclear negotiations which optimists hope could bring an end to decades of hostility and mistrust. Throughout it all, Congress has threatened to play the spoiler, with a tough sanctions bill passing the House and looming in the Senate which would almost certainly scuttle the fragile talks over the Iranian nuclear program. Now, as the deadline for the end of the talks approaches, a coalition of legislators, advocacy groups, and White House officials are working to hold Congress back from the brink of thwarting what they see as a historic window of opportunity. They're fighting against legislators and conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation and The Free Enterprise Institute who are pushing for the US to take a hawkish stance. Legislators, led by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, have been maneuvering quietly behind the scenes in Congress to keep the talks alive. At the same time, officials from the White House have been leaning heavily on Senate Democrats to refrain from bringing a sanctions bill to the floor. On the outside, a diverse range of pro-diplomacy groups, led by organisations like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the liberal Jewish organization J Street, have found a common cause and rallied together to lobby for restraint. Even the Quakers are energized. “This is a do-or-die moment, either we succeed, or we go in a much more negative direction,” said NIAC co-founder Trita Parsi at the group’s annual conference last weekend. Parsi sees the negotiations as a historic moment during a narrow window of opportunity. Presidents on both sides have sunk significant time and energy into the talks and Parsi believes the current leadership in both countries is more likely to make a deal than those who came before — or might come after. “The next president, whatever political party they’re in, is not going to spend precious political capital battling Congress[Obama] is the guy,” Parsi said. Supporters fear that failure of the talks could trigger increased sanctions, the rise of hardliners in Iran, and relations spiraling toward military confrontation.

Veto threats are only credible if Obama has capital

Lee, 5—Andrew Lee (Professor of Political Science at Claremont McKenna College) 05 “Invest or Spend? Political Capital and Statements of Administration Policy in the First Term of the George W. Bush Presidency”, Georgia Political Science Association, Conference Proceedings

With these words, the Framers created veto power, a central feature of our legislative process. The veto, traditionally an executive prerogative designed as a defensive check on Congress, has become an offensive tool for the president’s legislative agenda. In addition to blocking disfavored legislation, the president may threaten to veto favored legislation to compel Congress to change provisions within legislation. Congressional leaders take a veto threat very seriously. How does Congress gauge the credibility of a veto threat? Legislators would gauge the “political capital” of the president to determine the credibility of the threat. According to political journalist Tod Lindberg (2004), political capital is a “form of persuasive authority stemming from a position of political strength” (A21). Political capital can be measured by favorability and job approval polling numbers because they signify support for the president’s actions and agenda. For example, President Bush’s leadership after the September 11th terrorist attacks increased his favorability and job approval polling, and thus his political capital. He subsequently was able to launch a war with Afghanistan and Iraq. In such cases, the president’s high political capital would make a veto more credible. Congress must also reckon whether the president will think an issue is worth spending political capital on. As Richard S. Conley and Amie Kreppel (1999) write, “Whenever the President . . . act[s] to change the voting behavior of a Member, political capital is expended. It would not be logical to expend that capital in what was known ahead of time to be a losing battle” (2).

Goes nuclear—tons of different actors and scenarios for extinction

Avery, 13 -- Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen (11/6/2013, John Scales Avery, “An Attack On Iran Could Escalate Into Global Nuclear War,” http://www.countercurrents.org/avery061113.htm)

Despite the willingness of Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani to make all reasonable concessions to US demands, Israeli pressure groups in Washington continue to demand an attack on Iran. But such an attack might escalate into a global nuclear war, with catastrophic consequences. As we approach the 100th anniversary World War I, we should remember that this colossal disaster escalated uncontrollably from what was intended to be a minor conflict. There is a danger that an attack on Iran would escalate into a large-scale war in the Middle East, entirely destabilizing a region that is already deep in problems. The unstable government of Pakistan might be overthrown, and the revolutionary Pakistani government might enter the war on the side of Iran, thus introducing nuclear weapons into the conflict. Russia and China, firm allies of Iran, might also be drawn into a general war in the Middle East. Since much of the world's oil comes from the region, such a war would certainly cause the price of oil to reach unheard-of heights, with catastrophic effects on the global economy. In the dangerous situation that could potentially result from an attack on Iran, there is a risk that nuclear weapons would be used, either intentionally, or by accident or miscalculation. Recent research has shown that besides making large areas of the world uninhabitable through long-lasting radioactive contamination, a nuclear war would damage global agriculture to such a extent that a global famine of previously unknown proportions would result. Thus, nuclear war is the ultimate ecological catastrophe. It could destroy human civilization and much of the biosphere. To risk such a war would be an unforgivable offense against the lives and future of all the peoples of the world, US citizens included.

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