The President Invokes 'Logic' over the Iran Deal

At the president’s press conference after the nuclear deal with Iran was struck, CBS News correspondent Major Garrett asked President Obama about American hostages still held by Iran: “Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all of the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for, in relation to these four Americans?”

Garrett’s question (video and transcript) did not sit well with the president, who took particular umbrage at the use of the word “content,” spitting it back at Mr. Garrett with staccato precision. Mr. Obama, who seems to have no qualms about attacking the motives of others, doesn’t like to have his own questioned. What I noticed about Obama’s answer was this:

Now, if the question is why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly, Iran realizes, you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals -- makes it much more difficult for us to walk away if Iran somehow thinks that a nuclear deal is dependent in some fashion on the nuclear deal. [sic] And by the way, if we had walked away from the nuclear deal, we'd still be pushing just as hard to get these folks out. That's why those issues are not connected …

Pathetic. Obama and his team have got to be the worst negotiators in history. Immediately after the press conference, some observed that rather than being an item in the negotiations, the release of the hostages could have been a precondition to having negotiations. But Obama had already relaxed the sanctions on Iran, so such a precondition would have been more difficult.

What struck me about Obama’s answer is that he invoked “logic.” Those who invoke logic don’t really want you to examine theirs; they invoke logic to imply that the logic is on their side, so let’s “move on,” “the debate is over.” When people invoke logic, it’s your duty to go through their logic to see if it really stacks up. So let’s look at some “Obama logic” from six years ago.

In a 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama said: “So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.”

This kind of statement will fly right by most in the press corps. The part of the statement that contains “can” (as in “can be imposed”) is simply false. History is replete with examples of nations that did in fact impose systems of government on other nations, the United States being one.

As for the part of the statement that contains “should” (as in “should be imposed”), why shouldn’t one nation impose a system of government on another if that other nation’s system is threatening? “Should” the U.S. not have imposed a system on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the aftermath of World War Two?

Logically, Obama’s statement is applesauce, for if no system “should” be imposed, it then follows that a system “can” be imposed. And if no system “can” be imposed, then there’s no need to say that no system “should” be imposed.

Obama’s statement contains a “disjunction.” But his disjunction doesn’t work because each alternative (each “disjunct”) cancels out the other. You either state the first part, which is false, or the second part, which is morally degenerate. But what you don’t do is state both parts, because that’s illogical. (But by all means, let’s let Obama “be clear.”)

To be fair, we all make stupid statements, and perhaps Mr. Obama merely got flustered and misspoke. After all, his speech in Cairo was some 45 minutes long. You can look at the video of it and decide for yourself if he misspoke; the quote comes at the 36:30 mark in this C-Span video. He pauses immediately after the statement. Could he have had misgivings about what he had just said? Its illogic?

The president makes these kinds of dumb statements all the time, and our abysmal media rarely calls him on it. One outlet that’s not buying Obama’s logic on the Iran deal is National Review. Be sure to read Andrew McCarthy’s July 25 article “Congress Must Hold Obama Accountable for His Deception Over Iran.”

The president gives too many speeches; he talks too much. A regular guy who spoke as often as Obama does would get sick of the sound of his own voice, but not Barry. Mr. Obama is neither an historian nor a logician, and we have a year and a half to put up with him. Like fish, great nations rot from the head -- the place where logic is supposed to come from.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.