Team Obama warns Schumer, unconvincingly

As John has noted, the White House didn’t take kindly to Chuck Schumer’s announcement that he opposes the Iran nuclear deal. The Washington Post didn’t exaggerate in today’s front-page headline (paper edition) that read: “Senator [Schumer] assailed on Iran stance: White House, allies go on the offensive.”

Schumer has previously said that the timing of the passage of Obamacare was a political mistake. This makes the New York Senator 0-2 when it comes to the main Obama legacy items, as far as the President’s team is concerned

Schumer is slated to become the next leader of the Senate Democrats. But Dan Pfeiffer, until recently Obama’s “senior political adviser” and still a shill for the president, warned that Schumer could lose support for this position based on his stand against the Iran deal. He tweeted:

Senator Schumer siding with the GOP against Obama, [Hillary] Clinton and most Democrats will make it hard for him to lead the Democrats in 2016. The base won’t support someone who thought Obamacare was a mistake and wants War with Iran.

I doubt that Schumer’s stance will hurt his ability to lead Senate Democrats. He’s apparently quite popular with his colleagues, many of whom he worked hard to elect. But contrast Obama, a lame duck, is said not be very popular with Senate Dems, many of whom blame him for their shrinking numbers. Pfeiffer’s ludicrous claim that Schumer “wants war with Iran” won’t increase his man’s popularity among Senators of either party.

Yes, a majority of Senate Democrats will vote with Obama on the Iran deal. But his doesn’t mean they think there’s enough merit in it to hold Schumer’s “no” vote against him.

As for the “base,” Pfeiffer is correct in believing that it wants this deal. Like Obama, much of the American left dislikes Israel. Like Obama, much of the American left is not ill-disposed towards the Iranian regime, the “death to America” chants notwithstanding.

But Pfeiffer assumes that the base’s preference matters when it comes to selecting Senate leaders. That’s certainly not true on the Republican side. Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott were hardly base favorites. Indeed, a substantial portion of the base dislikes McConnell. Same with John Boehner in the House.

Maybe it’s different for Democrats, but I doubt it. Harry Reid was hardly a base favorite before he became the Democrats’ leader in the Senate — the demands of remaining popular in Nevada had stood in the way.

The Senate used, notoriously, to be a club. Now, I believe, it usefully can be viewed as two clubs. The Democratic club is unlikely to take its cues on who shall lead it from either an unpopular, non-clubby lame duck president or a rabble of outsiders.