Shifting the tenor of America’s debate on Iran

That was Netanyahu’s goal in addressing Congress. And so far, he’s been surprisingly successful.

March 9, 2015 18:23
US AND IRANIAN negotiators pose yesterday in Geneva before a discussion of Iran’s nuclear program

US AND IRANIAN negotiators pose yesterday in Geneva before another discussion of Iran’s nuclear program. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Had anyone told me a week ago that a single speech, however eloquent, could shift the entire tenor of America’s public debate over the nuclear negotiations with Iran, I’d have considered him a fantasist. Yet judging by the reactions of many American pundits who weren’t previously anti-Obama or pro-Netanyahu, that’s exactly what Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last Tuesday did. And on this particular issue, American public opinion matters greatly.

To understand why, it helps to read some of those pundits’ reactions. Take, for instance, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has close ties with the Obama Administration and has served in the past as a conduit for the administration’s anti-Netanyahu leaks. Despite criticizing many aspects of the speech, Ignatius concluded that it had significantly influenced the debate. “What Netanyahu did Tuesday was raise the bar for Obama,” he wrote. “Any deal that the administration signs will have to address the concerns Netanyahu voiced. Given what’s at stake in the Middle East, that’s probably a good thing.”


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