No Congressional vote in recent memory has roiled its Members like the one coming in a couple weeks on whether to support or oppose the President’s deal with Iran. Within hours of PolitickerNJ posting our “New Jersey Congressional Delegation Iran Scorecard,” we heard from staffers of multiple Congressmen to add shading or emphasis to the way we’d characterized their principal’s position. And just as interesting as those who wanted their position made more clear was the silence from those who wish the issue would just go away.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the announcements by two of NJ’s neighboring Senators, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Chris Coons of Delaware, that they’d be supporting the President’s Iran deal means Obama has “all but clinched victory.” And yet, several Democratic members of New Jersey’s delegation remain undecided, torn between loyalty to their president and pressure from constituents who view the deal with suspicion.
And now, these modern-day Hamlets on the Hudson, seemingly unable to make up their minds, are attracting more attention as the vote nears. Cory Booker, national darling of Jewish voters (and donors!), has been the subject of high-profile rallies, speculation about his personal friendships, and even a solo shot on public radio.
And then there’s the strange case of Frank Pallone.
At an event in Marlboro, yesterday, the long-time Monmouth County Congressman told PolitickerNJ that he is “honestly undecided” about how he’ll vote. That’s honest enough, but one reaction it provoked was interesting in its own right.
Herb Klitzner is a powerful Hudson County insider long affiliated with state Senator Nick Sacco (the headline of this story originally identified him as a Democrat, a party affiliation that Klitzner denied). As a close confidante of Sacco, who also happens to be mayor of North Bergen, Klitzner has served as Township Attorney for 30 years, overseeing the transition of the town from empty warehouses to big box destination.
So when a high-profile Hudson personage like Klitzner writes a stinging rebuke of a high-profile Democrat like Pallone, it gets noticed. On PolitickerNJ’s story about Pallone, Klitzner did not experience the same reluctance to offer an opinion that has bedeviled Pallone.
Klitzner’s reply is worth reading in full (below) but this excerpt sums it up:
“Do you not understand that this “deal” will give the maniacs who are sworn to destroy America the actual means to do it. No one in their right mind could be “honestly undecided”. Of course you are going to support it. Why not be honest enough to just announce that you are going to join those who are going to betray this country? Just asking.”
This is hardly the first time Pallone has found himself unable to come to a decision. Longtime readers of this site will recall the 2002 Senate election, in which an ethics probe was damaging Robert Torricelli so badly that the party bigs were demanding he step aside for a less tainted candidate. After a meeting at Drumthwacket, Frank Pallone had accepted the nod, but was struggling with the fact that Doug Forrester was ahead in the polls with the election so close that the Democrats had to maneuver quite a bit even to change the ballot.
PolitickerNJ even obtained a memo from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee addressed to “Pallone for Senate” and there was a press conference called and everything. Then Pallone turned off his cell phone and took a soul-searching walk around Princeton. And chickened out. At the time, this website memorably attributed his sudden withdrawal to a “lack of testicular fortitude” and speculated that he might have just been “afraid to give up his seemingly safe congressional seat for what may have been a risky and short campaign for the United States Senate.”
So however Pallone decides to vote on Iran—and now that the President seems to have the votes he needs, he may give Dems in tough seats permission to part with him—it’ll be hard to attribute his decision to some sort of principled stand.
Here’s Herb Klitzner’s entire response to the news that Frank Pallone is “honestly undecided” about the Iran deal:
“You’re “honestly undecided”? Lets see if I have this right.
Iran is the worlds formost sponsor of terrorism. They have supplied IEDs to the the anti-American forces in Iraq and Afganistan and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers.
The leaders of Iran lead chants of “Death to America” on a continual basis. They cheat on every agreement and have just announced that they will not be bound by U.N. resolutions against their acquiring ballistic missles. And, by the way, the only purpose of such missles is to deliver a nuclear warhead.
This deal will hand over $100,000,000,000 to the Iranians which, even our President concedes will be partially used to fund additional terrorism. How many more dead bodies will this money buy? Explosives are cheap and suicide bombers appear to be readily available. So how many more people do you think will die beacuse of this deal?
So, what is your confusion?
Do you not recognise a betrayal of American security when it is staring you in the face? Do you not understand that this “deal” will give the maniacs who are sworn to destroy America the actual means to do it. No one in their right mind could be “honestly undecided”. Of course you are going to support it. Why not be honest enough to just announce that you are going to join those who are going to betray this country? Just asking.”