It is now nearly two days since Rep. Ted Lieu announced his opposition to the Iran deal.
As of this writing–late night on Thursday, September 10–not a single local newspaper has noted the California Democrat’s stance. Only three outlets have reported the news: one is a pro-Israel website, one is a conservative blog, and the other is Breitbart California.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats’ filibuster over the deal was the lead at the Los Angeles Times.
It is true that Lieu’s stance will not affect the outcome one way or another. Now that Democrats have blocked the Senate vote, the Iran deal is certain to be implemented–as far as possible, given lingering state-level sanctions. President Barack Obama will not have to use his veto, even if the House votes the deal down.
Still, local media had watched Lieu’s decision closely. If Lieu had backed the deal, they would have trumpeted the news.
One person who did not miss Lieu’s decision was Marianne Williamson, the peace activist who was widely seen as the left-wing alternative to Lieu in the 2014 congressional primary.
Williamson, a peace activist and spiritual guru, posted a note to her Facebook page: “Ted Lieu shows much courage as a progressive refusing to toe the line, repudiating propaganda, opposing Iran deal.”
Williamson understands that the deal makes war more likely, not less.
It is a point Lieu stresses in his extraordinary 23-page explanation of his vote.
“The situation caused by the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] likely increases the chances of war and conflict, both in the short term and long term, and could fuel an arms race in a volatile region of the world,” he writes.
And he rejects the idea that war is the only alternative: “[V]oting against the JCPOA will not result in war, it will result in more diplomacy,” he says.
Lieu’s understanding of the issue is superlative. The freshman Democrat seems to have absorbed every relevant piece of information about the Iran deal in the media in recent weeks.
He applies an elegant test to the agreement: he assumes that everything Iran could do, it will do, then asks whether the results are acceptable.
Lieu concludes, “with a heavy heart,” that the answer is no–especially because of the lifting of the arms and ballistic missile embargoes.
Uniquely among Democrats, Lieu also raises a constitutional objection:
“The Framers created Congress–the branch closest to the people–as a coequal branch of government. I believe Congress must do an independent review on the merits rather than accept as a fait accompli any international agreement that is placed before it by the Executive Branch,” he writes.
And he adds, in a footnote: “Keep in mind that for most of the time the JCPOA was being negotiated, the Administration did not believe Congress even had the right to vote on this agreement.”
It is clear why knee-jerk supporters of the Iran deal might not wish to engage Lieu’s singularly impressive analysis. While deferential to the White House (“I believe President Obama is a transformational president”), and critical of some of the deal’s opponents (“It is offensive to compare supporters of the Iran Deal to Neville Chamberlain”), Lieu demolishes the agreement and many of the trite talking points that have been thoughtlessly thrown into its defense.
Perhaps Lieu was mindful that his predecessor, Henry Waxman, was a stalwart supporter of Israel. Credit is also due to Lieu’s Republican opponent in 2014, Elan Carr, who kept the Iran issue in focus in their race.
But kudos most of all to Ted Lieu himself, a patriot who deserves more recognition than local media seem willing to allow.