Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina spoke at the Citadel yesterday in South Carolina, and if you watched last night’s show, you know the GOP candidate ran into a little trouble while speaking about U.S. policy towards Iran.
“Republicans in the meantime, many are saying, ‘Oh, I would let this deal stand. I would see if they’re cheating. For heaven’s sake, they’ve been cheating for 30 years. How much more evidence do we need?“But beyond that, if ever there was a time for the nuclear option, boy, it’s the Iran deal. If ever there was a time for the nuclear option – I don’t mean – let me explain. Let me explain. I realize that might be confusing, the nuclear option in terms of Senate process.”
Under the circumstances, it’s an important clarification. When Fiorina referred to the “nuclear option,” she was referring to the nickname for changing procedural rules in the Senate. She did not mean the option of using nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, Fiorina’s argument still doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Let’s quickly dispatch the notion that the United States should abandon an international agreement, reached with some of our closest allies, because Iran has been “cheating for 30 years.” Cheating at what, exactly? Fiorina, who has no experience in foreign policy, didn’t say.
That’s because it’s a comment disconnected from the facts. The new, diplomatic solution will, for the first time, have nuclear inspectors on the ground in Iran. The country hasn’t been “cheating for 30 years” because there hasn’t been a strict verification system in place for 30 years. If Fiorina is looking for good arguments against the policy, she’ll need to look elsewhere.
But the more interesting argument is the assertion that the Senate Republican majority should uproot its legislative process, scrap the filibuster, and take on the Iran deal by majority-rule.
Fiorina is hardly the only one making this case. Other GOP presidential candidates, and more than a few House Republicans, have pushed the same argument.
If the filibuster were to disappear tomorrow, I wouldn’t miss it, but have Republicans really thought this through? If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his leadership team were to execute the “nuclear option” today as part of an effort to kill international diplomacy, here’s how the process would unfold:
1. The House would pass a measure to derail the Iran deal.
2. The Senate would pass a measure to derail the Iran deal.
3. President Obama would veto.
4. Congress would fail to override the veto.
5. The international agreement would move forward.
“If ever there was a time for the nuclear option, boy, it’s the Iran deal.” Really? Why? What does the nuclear option do for Republicans, except add some additional legislative steps before their failure?