An evil and ugly speech

This past Wednesday President Obama spoke at American University in support of the arrangement he has entered into with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The White House has posted the text of the speech here. Video of the speech is posted here on the White House site and here on YouTube.

The setting and length of the speech mark it as major. The setting harks back to President Kennedy’s commencement speech at American University in June 1963. The speech goes on for 55 minutes in the video.

It is an evil and ugly and dishonest speech — not from beginning to end, but at key points, with premeditation and intent to do harm. I challenge readers to find its like by any president in our history. It represents a nadir in presidential oratory and rhetoric. It warrants the closest attention.

The deal puts us in alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under it we pledge, for example, to “cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and best practices[.]” This will include “training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems,” according to the text. Additional “training and workshops” would work to “strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems,” the text states. (I am borrowing here from Adam Kredo’s reading of the agreement.)

Yet Obama notoriously portrays American opponents of the deal as in league with Iranian “hardliners” who supposedly oppose the deal. This is a rather blatant lie. I offer as evidence the regime’s leading hardliner — i.e., the Supreme Leader. He calls the shots and supports the deal.

Obama gives us this quotable quote:

Just because Iranian hardliners chant ‘Death to America’ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.) In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)

The most famous of these chanting hardliners, of course, is the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As usual, Obama counts on the ignorance of his audience at American University and they do not disappoint.

We could say case closed on this point, a point on which Obama seeks as usual to exploit the ignorance of his audience. But consider the case of another notorious “hardliner.” I offer the case of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC is named by Obama in the speech and implicitly recognized as among Iran’s “hardliners.”

Yet Soleimani is a named beneficiary of the agreement. Under it the sanctions in place against him are to be relieved. At least word, Iran and Soleimani were already evading the sanctions, but the agreement will in due course take care of whatever difficulties they raise. Now does Soleimani support the agreement or not (answer: yes), and who is in league with him (answer: President Obama)?

Obama singles out Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the state of the Jewish people as opponents of the deal. They are certainly opponents, but they aren’t the only ones. Every state in the vicinity of Iran finds the agreement problematic. The Obama administration seeks to defuse their opposition by showering them with arms. Thus Lee Smith and many others find the agreement to be hastening war.

Obama has a thing about Israeli opposition to the deal. He harps on it both in his American University speech and following it in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to be broadcast today, reported on here by the Times of Israel.

Obama has Jews on the brain. He resents the opposition of America’s organized Jewish community to the deal. In a meeting on Tuesday before the speech, he made the Jewish leaders in attendance an offer he hoped they couldn’t refuse. See this report carried by Jewish Journal. Lee Smith also picked up on the meeting in an excellent column for Tablet. Obama had the assembled Jewish organizations and leaders he convened on Tuesday in mind in this unsavory passage of his speech on Wednesday:

Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should — for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama has jammed this deal down the throats of the American people. With the mechanics of the Corker bill in place and Obama’s Democratic adherents reliably in line behind him, Congress will present no serious obstacle to the deal. Obama’s Jew-baiting is the gratuitous act of an extraordinarily vindictive and, to give him the benefit of the doubt, misguided man. It should be nevertheless be recognized for what it is.

Obama’s real problem is not with Israel or Jews, but rather with the American people. They have the number of Iran’s regime and its Supreme Leader. They know that this deal is good for the Iranian regime and rightly suspect that it is bad for us.

NOTE: In one of his email commentaries this week, Omri Ceren provided this useful background on sanctions relief for Soleimani (footnotes and screenshot omitted):

The Iranian general was originally sanctioned for a wide range of terror activities, including against Americans: U.S. military officials estimate that he has the blood of roughly 500 American soldiers on his hands and that the majority of American causalities during the final two years of Iraq were because of his surrogates. The JCPOA lifted many sanctions against Soleimani were lifted under the final JCPOA, generating a flood of criticism and forcing the administration to go into damage control mode.

At first the State Department denied the concession even existed, with Kerry claiming that it was a different Qassem Soleimani who was being delisted. That was false and so the White House quickly had to concede that the general was indeed getting sanctions relief.

Administration officials then shifted to declaring that the delisting was the best they could do: it would occur 8 years into the deal, after the UN’s sanctions authority lapsed, and would never occur on a domestic level at all. In the meantime they emphasized that both sets of sanctions would be vigorously enforced at the international level.

A senior administration official told reporters on July 14 “IRGC Commander Qassem Soleimani will not be delisted at the United Nations… [until] 8 years into the deal, so sanctions are not being lifted early on Qassem Soleimani… his designation under U.S. sanctions will in no way be impacted by the [JCPOA]. Since secondary sanctions remain in place on the U.S. side, this means that sanctions on Qassam Soleimani will still have an international effect” Kerry made the same point on July 29 to the Senate Armed Services “under the United States’ initiative… [Soleimani] will never be relieved of any sanctions.” The talking point was built into a White House memo titled “The Iran Deal: What You Need to Know About the JCPOA.”

Soleimani traveled to Russia in between the July 14 backgrounder and the July 29 Kerry testimony to Senate Armed Services. In both of those forums, administration officials made public assurances they would vigorously enforce existing and remaining sanctions against Soleimani. Lawmakers will likely watch the White House’s response to the new sanctions-busting to measure the administration’s sincerity and seriousness.

The patent lying in support of this rotten deal is something of a mordant footnote to Obama’s speech.