I agree with The New Republic’s John Judis that the boldest part of President Obama’s SOTU address was his firm pledge to veto any bill to increase sanctions on Iran while negotiations are in progress. I couldn’t help but notice the rather tepid applause he got for that, but he apparently achieved the desired effect, reinforcing recent intense lobbying by the administration. The sanctions bill now looks moribund, if not dead. One Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has already removed his name from the list of co-sponsors. Several others are backpedaling. Notably, my own senator, Kristen Gilibrand, now says, “After speaking with the President, I am comfortable giving him the additional time requested before this bill goes to the floor.” Another co-sponsor, Chris Coons of Delaware, came out with a similar statement.
So, it looks like Harry Reid will be able to hold off on allowing any vote on the bill. In the now unlikely event it does pass in the Senate (no problem in the House), it seems inconceivable that enough Democrats would be willing to undermine Obama by voting to override a veto.
Conspicuous by her silence on this issue has been Hillary Clinton. As the recent secretary of state, it would be more than natural for her to make a strong declaration of support for the President’s position. Her silence suggests strongly to me that her sympathies are with the hawks. That’s one reason why I am more or less resigned, but far from enthusiastic, about the prospect of Clinton in ’16.