Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


McConnell Shows How It’s Done

Senate Minority Leader criticizes Obama sans undue politicization

Print Email
Sen. Mitch McConnell tonight.(Chris Kelponis/AFP/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky and the Senate Minority Leader, presented a model tonight, I thought, of how to criticize administration policies without inappropriately politicizing Israel’s security (unlike others). “The current administration’s policies,” he said, “however well intended, aren’t enough.”

But it wasn’t just his Southern politeness. McConnell presented rigorous, specific grounds for disagreement with the president: and not with his values or even his strategies, but his tactical policies.

Joining with AIPAC, he identified Iranian weapons-capability as the crucial red line, referring, in language borrowed from Israeli Defense Minister Barak, to a “zone of immunity from which [Iran] can coerce and intimidate other countries.”

Laying out Iran advances, McConnell concluded: “These things present not only a compelling case against Iran, but also, regretfully, against the administration’s current efforts to halt the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program.”

And: “The question isn’t whether we have the same goal. We do have the same goal. The question is why the administration’s efforts haven’t succeeded in halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”

His answer? The first two years and change of engagement were an abject failure. “The administration’s mistake has been to attempt negotiations and sanctions consecutively rather than simultaneously,” he said. Again, disagree if you want, but there is no reason McConnell shouldn’t be allowed to respectfully point this out.

“The only way the Iranian regime can be persuaded to negotiate for its survival,” he added, “is if the administration imposes the strictest sanctions while at the same time” clearly threatening force. And since the administration appears unready to do that, he added, McConnell said he would do it himself: “Tonight I’m prepared to propose such a policy. If Iran at any time, at any time, begins to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels or decides to go forward with a weapons program, then the United States would use overwhelming force to end that program.”

This received a standing ovation, and also prompted the question: how does McConnell, a senator, think he will dictate U.S. national security policy? Isn’t that the president’s job?

Here was his solution: “If at any time the intelligence community presents Congress with an assessment” that Iran has starting enriching to weapons-grade or decides on a weapon, “I will consult with the president and the joint congressional leadership and introduce before the Senate an authorization of the use for military force.”

My guess this is kosher from an Article II perspective, but it still feels a little odd. It will be more interesting to see, tomorrow morning, what the folks who actually want to unseat President Obama as commander-in-chief have to say. My guess is they will be less civil, less reasonable, and less persuasive than the senator from Kentucky.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

McConnell Shows How It’s Done

Senate Minority Leader criticizes Obama sans undue politicization

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview