Blessings upon New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for pointing out that “fulmination” is the right word to describe opposition to the diplomatic deal President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have just reached with Iran and the P5+1 major world powers.
Fulmination is exactly the term to describe the political and pundit “arguments” now being used against the agreement.
That’s right, fulmination, as in “to issue a thunderous verbal attack or denunciation”.
Or, if your thinking runs more to the ecclesiastical, fulmination is the best way to describe “a sermon that was one long fulmination”.
In an internet introduction to his Times column on his support for the deal, Kristof testified with the quiet dignity of a man who comes to the altar after sitting through “one long fulmination” which he finds totally unconvincing.
“I’ve covered Iran and North Korea for years, and have been to each country a number of times. One of the things I’ve seen is that American politicians want to practice fulmination rather than diplomacy, but fulmination doesn’t block a nuclear program.”
In his column, on line and in print, Thursday, July 30, Kristof wrote:
“The U.S. didn’t get all it wanted (and neither did Iran) in an imperfect compromise. True, we didn’t achieve anywhere, anytime inspections, yet the required inspections program is still among the most intrusive ever.
Remember too that this deal isn’t just about centrifuges but also about the possibility that Iran will come out of the cold and emerge from its failed 36-year experiment with extremism”.
The cool, rational language with which Kristof explains “why I think the deal makes us safer”, contrasts with the bombastic, irresponsible language employed by politicians and pundits who prefer to fulminate to the voting masses, in language eagerly broadcast by media outlets.
Fulmination is mindless language shouted against the mindful expressions of a thoughtful analyst like Nicholas Kristof.
During the 60 day period Congress has to consider the deal, polls offering to describe public opinion on the deal John Kerry reached with representatives of Iran and the P5+1 major nations should be read with several tons of salt.
The P5+1 offers a strong array of international powers. The term P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (the P5); namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany.
One conservative poll operation fed the fulmination fervor with a misleading question that skewed its findings against the deal.
“A poll by Secure America Now in coordination with Caddell Associates and McLaughlin & Associates suggests that 54 percent of voters agree with opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, based on a misleading question that falsely likens the deal to ‘the one North Korea violated to build nuclear weapons'”.
Yes, that is the same Pat Caddell who was George McGovern’s pollster in McGovern’s 1972 failed try for the presidency. Sad to say, from one who worked with Caddell on that campaign, the Pat Caddell of today appears to me to be as politically far right as he was politically far left in that 1972 campaign.
Viewers and readers should question polls, whether reported by CNN or Fox or MSNBC with the same vigor the old Chicago News Bureau once counseled, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”.
Public displays of support or opposition to the Iran deal are more reliable.
Witness, for example the picture above from Thursday’s New York Times, capturing the moment when Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who has served Illinois’ 9th district since 1999, hugs a young Code Pink demonstrator in Chicago, in an expression of common agreement supporting the the deal.
Schakowsky is Jewish; her district has a heavy Jewish constituency. She is recognized as one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the Congress. She did, however, signal her caution in giving Israel the doubt in every issue, when she chose not to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Iran deal speech to Congress in March.
In a press release this week, Schakowsky points to a poll from Public Policy Polling which reaches a different conclusion from the Caddell poll.
The PPP poll finds that “there’s strong support nationally for the Iran deal, that voters want their members of Congress to let it move forward, and that there’s no potential political backlash for members who do support the deal”.
Schakowsky stands with her Democratic Minority House leader, Nancy Pelosi, who has represented California’s 12th congressional district for 27 years.
The Hill reported Thursday:
House Democrats will provide the necessary support to finalize President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted Thursday.
Asked if the Democrats could sustain a promised veto of the Republicans’ expected disapproval measure, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.
“Yes,” she replied.
Pressed about the reason she’s so confident, she said: “Because of the nature of the agreement.”
She added that the agreement is a “diplomatic masterpiece”.
Prominent figures in the world of entertainment and world politics have joined the battle between fulmination and diplomacy. In a video released by Global Zero, they make the case that diplomacy is the only answer to the present crisis.
Included in the video are Jack Black, Morgan Freeman, Natasha Lyonne, Farshad Farahat, Valerie Plame, Queen Noor of Jordan, and former U.S. Amb. Thomas Pickering.
For those who do not respond well to fulmination, the testimonies above, beginning with the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof, make a strong case for diplomacy.
The picture at top is from the New York Times. It is by Reuters.. The picture of Nancy Pelosi is from The Hill. It is a Getty photo.