Republicans already counting the seats they will pick up this fall should keep in mind Obama has a big card yet to play.
Should the president declare he has gone the last mile for a negotiated end to Iran's nuclear program and impose the "crippling" sanctions he promised in 2008, America would be on an escalator to confrontation that could lead straight to war.
And should war come, that would be the end of GOP dreams of adding three-dozen seats in the House and half a dozen in the Senate.
Harry Reid is surely aware a U.S. clash with Iran, with him at the president's side, could assure his re-election. Last week, Reid whistled through the Senate, by voice vote, a bill to put us on that escalator.
Senate bill 2799 would punish any company exporting gasoline to Iran. Though swimming in oil, Iran has a limited refining capacity and must import 40 percent of the gas to operate its cars and trucks and heat its homes.
And cutting off a country's oil or gas is a proven path to war.
In 1941, the United States froze Japan's assets, denying her the funds to pay for the U.S. oil on which she relied, forcing Tokyo either to retreat from her empire or seize the only oil in reach, in the Dutch East Indies.
The only force able to interfere with a Japanese drive into the East Indies? The U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Egypt's Gamel Abdel Nasser in 1967 threatened to close the Straits of Tiran between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba to ships going to the Israeli port of Elath. That would have cut off 95 percent of Israel's oil.
Israel response: a pre-emptive war that destroyed Egypt's air force and put Israeli troops at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Straits of Tiran.
Were Reid and colleagues seeking to strengthen Obama's negotiating hand?
The opposite is true. The Senate is trying to force Obama's hand, box him in, restrict his freedom of action, by making him impose sanctions that would cut off the negotiating track and put us on a track to war -- a war to deny Iran weapons that the U.S. Intelligence community said in December 2007 Iran gave up trying to acquire in 2003.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made clear the Senate is seizing control of the Iran portfolio. "If the Obama administration will not take action against this regime, then Congress must."
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