Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent joined me today to discuss the “deal” with Iran and whether the Senate should leave town August 10 with this issue pending:
HH: Joined now by former United States Senator Jim Talent of the American Enterprise Institute. You can follow him on Twitter, @JimTalent, another senior advisor to Scott Walker. Senator Talent, welcome back, good to speak with you.
JT: Hey, thank you, Hugh, good to be with you.
HH: What’s your reaction to the Iran deal?
JT: Well, they played President Obama for a patsy, and as a matter of fact, I was thinking that we’re going to have to invent a new word, because patsy isn’t strong enough. I mean, we have given them everything they wanted. We gave them things they didn’t want initially. We’re giving an imprimatur of international approval to them being a nuclear threshold state, up to $150 billion dollars of aid, and access to the conventional arms market, which wasn’t even on the table until like, what, three or four days ago, in return for their promise that they won’t go the final step and use the infrastructure we’re leaving them to actually build a bomb. And this is a nation, by the way, that’s lied repeatedly about what it’s done in the past. And we’re expected to believe its promises about what it’s going to do in the future?
HH: Can the deal be beaten?
JT: Well, it’s hard to say. You’d have to say probably not, because you’ve got to get two-thirds vote in both [houses of] Congress. I think there’s a very good chance they’ll disapprove it. And by the way, Hugh, our allies have suffered far more even than we have with this. Countries that trusted us have been betrayed, because now not only are we, again, we’re giving international approval to this program, but we’re going to give Iran all this money. That’s in essence what we’re doing. Who do we think they’re going to use it against? The nations that trusted us – the Israelis, the Gulf states, the Saudis, and then Obama says no future president should reverse what I’m doing. Well, what’s he doing but reversing the policy on a bipartisan basis of every one of his predecessors regarding our allies.
HH: Now I have had on today Ambassador Dermer, Ambassador Oren, Senators Sullivan, Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, Bobby Jindal was on, Carly Fiorina, they’re all denouncing it. Now my objection to what’s going to happen next is there’s a 60 day window to debate, and the United States Senate’s going on recess from August 10th through September 7th. How in the world do we persuade people it’s an urgent moment if the Senate takes a four week vacation?
JT: Well, you know, I hadn’t even thought of that, but you’re right. This is going to occur over the normal recess in August. I think they’ve got to take a look at whether they want to do that. I mean, this is, Munich is what comes to mind, although I mean, I don’t, at least in Munich, Hitler promised he wouldn’t invade.
HH: Yeah, you’re right.
JT: They have explicitly said, Obama says well, this is a new chapter, they’re going to be responsible actors. They’ve explicitly said they’re not changing anything else.
HH: Now I just wonder, you know a lot of these Democrats. You served with them. But Joe Manchin came out today and he kind of, and I’m counting on Joe Manchin to be one of the sane ones to get to 60. If we can get to 60, I think you can use the veto period to get to 67 by identifying Democrats who are vulnerable and really turn up the heat.
JT: He might.
HH: But you can’t lose Manchin on round one, can you?
JT: Yeah, it’s disappointing. I’ve been in Plains all day, Hugh, as you probably know. I’m sure Duane told you. And so I’ve read the top lines of this. I’ve read Max Boot’s article, and Doug Zakheim’s article on it. I have not been reading about the Congressional reaction, but, and this is just, this is just, and they played him for a patsy, and he bought it.
HH: How long will it take the Arabs, the Sunni states, to go nuclear? That’s the other thing that Dermer stressed, and a number of other people have stressed, is that look, they’re not going to sit around and let Iran get a bomb. They’re going to get a bomb, too.
JT: They’re going to have to protect themselves. That’s correct. And now, we have another area of the world where the initiative, when you ask what’s going to happen next, well, you’ve got to ask them in Tehran, because they have the initiative. I mean, there’s a number of things they could do. They could keep this for a while and you know, absorb all the sanctions relief. They can quietly cheat on it and hide it. They could openly cheat on it and rub it right in our faces. Or they could a year from now just withdraw from the whole thing, and we’ll never be able to, I mean, it’ll be very difficult to reassemble the sanctions. The initiatives pass to the aggressor now in the Middle East, as it already has in Eastern Europe, as it has in the Western Pacific. It’s just…
HH: Can it be made to be an issue in the fall of ’16 against Hillary, who immediately endorsed the deal today?
JT: No, I think it’s going to be, it has to be an issue. It’s, I mean, I don’t know whether it’s as bad as him withdrawing from Iraq or withdrawing, taking the missile defense bases. I mean, he’s done things that are so bad, it’s, you know, it’s hard to build a top five list of worst decisions. But you know, this is in the conversation, and maybe the absolute worst. You know how destabilizing this is.
HH: Well, Senator Talent, when you get back, I hope you talk to your former colleagues and tell them that it would be great to see Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner stand shoulder to shoulder and announce the cancellation of the recess, because they’re going to be in session every day to debate this historic misadventure by President Obama.
JT: It’s a great, and it is historic. I mean, it’s going to be remembered for a very long time. Yeah, it’s a good point.
HH: Good to talk to you, Jim Talent, always a pleasure.
End of interview.