Berman, Pelosi Undermine Obama on Iran Diplomacy
It's interesting to observe when some Democratic Congressional leaders say Democrats have to be "loyal" to President Obama and when it's apparently OK to join Republicans in undermining him.
Earlier this week, Speaker Pelosi said progressive House Democrats said had to be "loyal" to President Obama in supporting more money to escalate war in Afghanistan, despite the lack of any strategy for how we are going to get out. And they had to be "loyal" to President Obama in supporting $108 billion for the International Monetary Fund, widely expected to be used largely to bail out European banks, even though modest Congressional demands for reforms at the IMF (the Fed publishes minutes of its meetings, why not the IMF?) had been rebuffed.
But when President Obama said, quite sensibly, that the U.S. should avoid the appearance of meddling in Iran's election dispute, Howard Berman and Nancy Pelosi decided to join with Republicans in undermining Obama's policy.
CQ Politics reports:
When House Republicans pushed a resolution supporting Iranian protestors Tuesday, critics said they were seeking political points against a circumspect President Obama. But when House Democrats signed onto the resolution (H Res 560) Thursday night, getting a green light for a Friday morning vote under suspension of the rules from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, critics said it seemed they were taking political cover. Backed by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana, the resolution would put the House directly at odds with the White House and Senate Democrats if approved.Of course, the goal of this resolution was quite clear: to interfere in the internal politics of Iran. As CQ notes:
Pence introduced the resolution June 16 saying, "if the President of the United States won't express the unqualified support of our nation for the dissidents in the streets of Tehran, this Congress must."CQ notes that the National Iranian American Council opposed the Congressional action:
Iranian-American groups, who have lobbied all week against congressional action on a resolution, are crying foul. "What the Congress is trying to do by coming down squarely on one side in the ongoing election dispute runs the risk of making the United States part of the story in Iran -- which is exactly what Ahmadinejad was hoping for," Patrick Disney, legislative director of the National Iranian American Council said late Thursday night.John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had also criticized demands that the U.S. take sides.
"If we actually want to empower the Iranian people, we have to understand how our words can be manipulated and used against us to strengthen the clerical establishment," Kerry wrote in Wednesday's New York Times.
Berman tried to excuse himself by suggesting that the resolution he was supporting did not take a position on Iran's election. "It is not for us to decide who should run Iran, much less determine the real winner of the June 12 election," Berman said. But Berman is a very smart guy, and he knows perfectly well how this resolution is going to be reported and interpreted. Note, for example, the CQ Politics headline: "Resolution Supporting Iranian Election Protests Gains Support." Rather than, say, "Berman Negotiates Nuanced Resolution that Affirms Broad U.S. Support for Democracy and Human Rights While Remaining Neutral in Iran Election Dispute."
If you think that President Obama was right when he said that the U.S. should stay out of Iran's election dispute, then tell Obama he was right.