During a debate I did a few weeks ago on the Iran nuclear talks, I was astonished when my far-left opponent asserted that Republican opposition to the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran was based on racism because the president is an African American. This absurd argument obviously made no sense given growing bipartisan concerns that the United States has conceded too much to get a weak nuclear agreement with Iran.
I had almost forgotten this outlandish claim until I saw it again Saturday in a New York Times editorial titled “A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks.” In it, the Times contended that Republican attacks on President Obama’s Iran policy are somehow based on subtle racism, the same racism that motivated what it claimed were prior attacks questioning whether Mr. Obama was an American citizen or suggesting that he was a secret Muslim.
The editorial levied other far-fetched criticisms of the president’s Republican critics. It claimed that the open letter by 47 Republican senators to the leadership of Iran was “the most outrageous example” of these latest racist attacks on Obama’s leadership and amounted to an effort to deny a Democratic president a policy victory. I should add that this latter argument appears to be a Democratic talking point, since I encountered it in two other debates I did over the last month on the Iran nuclear talks. The Times’ editorial writers tried to support these incredible charges by claiming there “is no functional difference” between the letter sent by the 47 GOP senators and if a group of Democratic senators had written to the Kremlin in 1986 to block President Reagan’s nuclear talks with Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev.
I take personal offense to the Times editorial, since my criticism of the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran has been solely based on excessive U.S. concessions that I believe will lead to a weak and dangerous agreement. I have never claimed that the president is not an American citizen or that he is a Muslim.
This editorial was an act of desperation. President Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran is not collapsing because of racism. It’s collapsing because his Iran diplomacy is a disaster that produced an account of the nuclear framework — an outline for a final nuclear agreement with Iran — that is clearly a fraud.
The purpose of this fraud appears to be to convince Democratic members of Congress — especially Senate Democrats — not to vote for legislation to give Congress a vote on an Iran nuclear agreement, or to impose new sanction on Iran. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the Iranian government is not willing to play along with this subterfuge. We now know that Iran never agreed to most of the tough provisions described last week by Obama officials. This is why top Iranian officials are claiming the administration lied in a fact sheet it issued on the framework. In addition, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated last week that sanctions against Iran must be terminated when an agreement is signed, not lifted in phases based on Iranian compliance, as Obama officials had claimed. Khamenei also said Iranian military facilities will be off-limits to U.N. inspectors.
With the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran in deep trouble, the New York Times and other left-wing Obama supporters are prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend this initiative, including hurling charges of racism. Given the Iranian leadership’s rejection of the Obama version of the framework agreement and growing bipartisan opposition to President Obama’s Iran policy, I am confident the American people are too smart to fall for this ridiculous claim.
Samuel Johnson once said patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Reckless claims of racism by the Left, including in cases like this where race plays no role whatsoever, may merit an update to Dr. Johnson’s adage.
-Originally Published in the National Review