Sunday, August 9, 2015

Schumer Leaves Reservation - Tribe In Shock

Much to my surprise, Chuck Schumer has announced his opposition to the Iran treaty (I've decided to permanently refer to it as a treaty despite Obama's, Kerry's and Senate Republicans' parsing of the language). The real shocker in the announcement is that he also declared that he would vote to override a presidential veto. This should give some undecided democrats some measure of pause as well as valuable political cover.

Here's my next shot in the dark: Harry Reid will join Schumer at least in an initial rejection of the treaty. And here's why. One of Harry Reid's biggest supporters in Nevada (aside from casino workers' unions, of course) is the Greenspun family. They operate The Las Vegas Sun, a struggling daily newspaper, and are developers of Green Valley, an enormous commercial/residential pod that has enjoyed substantial growth over the years. They are generous philanthropists and have contributed major gifts to UNLV.

The paterfamilias of the family, Hank Greenspun, started his career with Bugsy Siegel when the gangster essentially created the modern Las Vegas with the creation of the Flamingo Hotel. He later started The Sun, owned Vegas' first TV station and eventually controlled the city's single cable franchise. He also fell afoul of the law. As an ardent Zionist, he helped smuggle arms to the Haganah, a paramilitary group fighting for Israeli statehood. He was arrested, convicted and fined, but did not serve any jail time. He was pardoned by John Kennedy in 1961.

Though Hank thought of himself as a Republican, his children, like most Jews of this generation, have supported liberal democrat causes. Under son Brian's supervision, The Sun's editorials are consistently liberal, supportive of Harry Reid, and very much defenders of the Obama agenda. Brian has even written a recent Op-Ed that, while skeptical of some of the elements of the Iran treaty, generally supports passage of legitimizing a nuclear Iranian state.

I'm hopeful in the final analysis that Brian may be swayed by Chuck Schumer's decision, will remember the unusual sacrifice made by his father and decide that the treaty is far too risky, gives away far too much to the Iranians and, ultimately, must be resisted. If he should come to this conclusion, I have little doubt that he will communicate the family's position to Harry Reid and Harry will join with Chuck. Harry has little political risk at this juncture.

He is retiring because there is speculation that in a republican  administration there would be a serious investigation into Harry's sketchy intervention with DHS to fast track visas for Asian casino investors in a project in which Reid's son is involved. And Harry always seems to have something to do with his son's projects. Obama owes Harry everything and would never permit his apolitical Justice Department to pursue charges against him.

And Schumer has been a very loyal foot soldier for Reid. Obama's attack dogs, in the form of Jon Favereau and Ben Rhodes, have made noise that perhaps Schumer has lost his standing to succeed Reid because of his opposition to the treaty. But Reid may feel a sense of allegiance to Schumer for having his back for nearly a decade and, though we know Reid doesn't have an ethical bone in his body, he may feel compelled to stand with Schumer with a strong nudge from the Greenspuns and other influential  Nevada Jews who have contributed to his campaigns liberally. I wouldn't put it past Sheldon Adelson, not one of Reid's biggest fans, but a man with a huge bank account and enormous influence in Las Vegas, to throw some shekels in the direction of one of Reid's less objectionable causes to insure he votes with Schumer to further pressure the president.

Again, I'm under no illusions that this treaty will ultimately win the day. There will not be enough democrat votes to override a veto. At a minimum, I would like to see it rejected, in order to force Obama to use a veto for its "passage". That would be absolutely unprecedented, would undermine the legitimacy of the treaty and subject the likes of Kerry, Boxer, Feinstein and others to the ridicule of history.

More importantly, it might lead to a fissure between the Jewish community and the democrat party which has enjoyed their monolithic support since the 1960's.

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