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Friday, September 11, 2015

The Iran Vote: Possibly The Most Aggressive White House Arm Twisting Of All Time

At the end of July the White House was worried that members of his own party would revolt and and deliver President Barack Obama a devastating blow on the international stage.  But as CNN tells the story the White House began the possibly the most aggressive arm-twisting effort of all time.

Last month Harry Reid secretly assured Secretary of State John Kerry that he would back the deal but he would keep quiet about it:
He promised to help deliver critical information about which Democrats to target -- but Reid himself needed to let about a dozen friends, supporters and donors who were sharply critical of the deal know why he was backing it before his position became public.
What ensued was perhaps the most aggressive and coordinated lobbying drive ever to take shape between congressional Democratic leaders and the Obama White House -- which have frequently been at odds over strategy and tactics. It was a strategy that focused exclusively on House and Senate Democrats, ignoring Republicans altogether. And it underscored how sensitive the deal was to a number of Democrats, who feared a sharp backlash from pro-Israel voters and their Republican foes.
The effort succeeded because the focus was entirely on the Democrats first to guarantee a veto would be sustained, then as it became apparent that goal would be reached to generate a filibuster so the president and the Democrats would be absolved from committing this grave mistake.
For a president often criticized for being detached from Congress, Obama aggressively used his bully pulpit to win over his party, contacting 125 Democratic House members and senators since July, many of them repeatedly, according to Democratic sources.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the GOP chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an opponent of the deal, said his Democratic friends reported to him that the White House was "breaking arms and legs" to prevent Congress from voting down the deal.
 We know that worked as on Thursday Senate Democrats filibustered a vote on the deal.

To quell a Democratic uprising, the White House, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi traded key intelligence about uneasy Democrats, dispatching powerful Cabinet officials to lock down support. Over the August recess, Pelosi gave the White House 57 names of House Democrats who were wobbly on the Iran pact; Obama called all of them, including 30 calls to Democratic lawmakers in between rounds of golf during his Martha's Vineyard vacation, according to Democratic sources.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin called almost everyone in his 46-member caucus, interrupting a family vacation in Oregon to lobby skittish Democrats. On a jaunt to Florida last week where he talked about his presidential ambitions, Vice President Joe Biden made a side trip to help woo and eventually win over Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, an influential Jewish Democrat who was facing fierce protests, including from some activists who charged that she should "go to the oven," a reference to the Holocaust.

Senior administration officials made 250 calls to House members and senators, sources said. That includes Jack Lew, the Treasury secretary and an Orthodox Jew, who was dispatched to help alleviate concerns of Jewish lawmakers, and Kerry, a former senator who relied on his longstanding Hill connections to push his party to back the deal.
There is more to the story which I recommend to get some inside Washington scoop. Its interesting that by concentrating on his party alone, the Obama administration sold in the crap sandwich known as the P5+1 nuclear agreement. Also notable is that with the success of his arm twisting effort Obama becomes the most partisan president in history. He has sold in his two biggest programs, Obamacare and now the nuke deal relying on just his party.  I guess he turned not to be the post partisan president he promised to be.  

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