Schumer’s Finest Hour
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The announcement by Senator Schumer that he will oppose the Iran appeasement is his finest hour. He is reported by the Times to have retreated to his office with a yellow pad and to have written out his own statement. It’s an admirable one — and well-timed, too, coming, as it does, but a day after the President sought to suggest that opponents of the deal are war-mongers and of the ilk that took us to war in Iraq. One can call Mr. Schumer a lot of things, but war-monger isn’t one of them.
We don’t mind saying that we were surprised at Mr. Schumer’s announcement. We’d interpreted his soliloquy in a meeting in June with a delegation from the Orthodox Union as suggesting that he would swing behind the president. He’d spent all too much time listening to the President Obama and his state undersecretary, Wendy Sherman. But he eventually realized that, as he put it, “after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”
It may be, too, that Mr. Schumer grew alarmed, as many Jews (and Christians) have, at the way the President has been making his case for this agreement. Mr. Obama’s mocking of Israel this week for standing alone among all the nations against this agreement was offensive, as several newspapers noted. It was enough to make any fair-minded person say, “Wait a minute, Israel is going to be the first target Iran will attack with any atomic bomb.” Mr. Schumer’s announcement was forwarded to us by a Spanish-speaking friend with a note saying, “si no ahora, cuando?”
It took, in any event, no small a dollop of courage to do what Mr. Schumer did, given that he’s in line to succeed Senator Reid as his party’s leader in the upper house. That’s a position the Brooklyn Democrat has wanted all his career, and it is possible to imagine now that the left wing of the party will try to derail his elevation. Moveon.org greeted Mr. Schumer’s statement with an announcement that its 8 million members would launch a “donor strike” to deny funds to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Our prediction is that the real impact of Moveon.org’s demarche will be to throw into sharper relief Mr. Schumer’s courage in making the decision he just announced. It will be important to stick with it. There has been speculation within the Jewish leadership that Mr. Schumer will try to have it both ways, voting initially against the deal but, once Mr. Obama vetoes any resolution sent to him, decline to vote to override the veto. We’ve warned several times of how the Jerusalem Embassy Act was undercut at the last moment by giving the president a waiver.
Mr. Schumer’s statement, however, seemed calculated to put that fear to rest. It is helpful that he made the statement early. We’d like to think that it will inspirit other Democrats to stand apart from the appeasement wing of the party. No sooner had Mr. Schumer announced his decision than Congressman Eliot Engel, another New York Democrat, announced he would also break with the president on this head. If more Democrats swing behind Mr. Schumer on this, people will start to say that this is what it means to be a leader in the Senate.