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Bill Press: Schumer proves unworthy to lead Democrats

Bill Press: Schumer proves unworthy to lead Democrats

He tried to hide it, and so far he’s been successful.

Clearly by design, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) released a statement declaring his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal on Thursday night, while 24 million Americans and every single political reporter in America were watching the first GOP 2016 presidential debate. Schumer’s a genius in media messaging — he knew what would happen, and it worked. Since then, news of that volcanic debate and Donald Trump’s ugly post-debate comments about Megyn Kelly have almost totally eclipsed any discussion of Schumer’s announcement.

Big mistake.

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By ignoring Schumer’s move, the media is missing one of the biggest political stories of the day: Charles Schumer has proven himself unworthy and ill-equipped to lead Senate Democrats. He’s wrong on the policy of the Iran deal, and he’s wrong on the politics.

On the policy, Schumer does nothing more than repeat the long-repudiated fear about what might happen 10 years from now, made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “To me,” Schumer echoed Netanyahu in his statement, “after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”

This is total nonsense. Who knows what the Middle East will be like, how power will have shifted or what new threats might exist, 10 years from now? Senators never decide any issue, domestic or foreign, with certainty of what things will be like 10 years from now. They make their judgment on what’s best for today. And there’s no doubt that what’s best for today — for the United States, for Israel, and for the world — is to make it impossible for Iran to pursue development of a nuclear bomb, for at least ten years! And, after 10 years, even assuming there’s no extension of this deal, which nobody knows for sure, it would be even more difficult for Iran to restart its nuclear program, having been without enriched uranium and centrifuges for 10 years.

Schumer’s also wrong on the politics. While he may have an inside track to be the next Democratic leader in the Senate, he’s demonstrated he doesn’t deserve it. On many issues, he’s simply out of step with most Senate Democrats.

He’s the senator from Wall Street, not Main Street. In 2002, he voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. In 2006, he supported George Bush’s nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly telling his fellow Democrats that “a vote against Bolton was a vote against Israel.” As leader, his job would be to unite Democrats, not divide them. Yet now, given a chance to stand with President Obama, he’s chosen to stand instead with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), with Netanyahu.

It’s not like Senate Democrats are lacking strong leaders. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s been a remarkably effective Democratic whip since 2015. Washington Sen. Patty Murray’s shown extraordinary leadership on budget issues. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) lead the progressive wing of the party. Nobody’s a stronger voice on foreign policy than Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who supports the Iran agreement. And there are others.

Bottom line: Senate Democrats have many capable candidates for to choose from for their new Leader. Charles Schumer’s not one of them.

 

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.