Iran impact on political front
President Carter now must seek to cope with internal politics as well as with public reaction to the rescue failure and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's resignation.Skip to next paragraph
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White House unrest over what was perceived as presidential hawkishness in dealing with Iran emerged several days ago at a closed staff meeting.
At the time those White House staffers who expressed fears over what they had heard were Carter plans to use military means against Iran were told such anxieties were unfounded.
So now will those aides decide they were lied to -- and depart?
Or will they accept the Carter rationale that the rescue attempt was not really an imposition of US military might but simply a "humanitarian" mission?
Also will there be those around Mr. Vance who will see it his way and leave the ship?
Politically, the impact of the President's deepening problems are still unclear.
Monitor checks with political leaders, together with new polls, show the public favored the rescue effort -- even though it failed.
But the same public says the move was too late. An AP-NBC poll finds the public expressing this view by a 2-to-1 margin.
Further, that AP-NBC poll shows the public's approval rating for the President's handling of the Iranian crisis dropping to 42 percent from the 47 percent rating Mr. Carter held in March.
Some key politicians and observers now see the political road ahead in this way:
* Mr. Carter's main problem with the Vance resignation is if it causes a chain reaction with a large number of resignations, it will further underscore a picture of a president who has lost control of his organization.
However, if the President is able quickly to name a replacement for Mr. Vance that finds public favor and if he is able to stop the flow of related resignations before it cuts too deeply into his ranks, he may be able to begin to shore up public confidence.
* In fact, it may well be that the President will now gain the support of the nation's "hawks."
For example, if those who want to see the US more aggressive in Iran and in its relations with the Soviets start to believe they now have a hard-line President, their support might be of considerable help to Mr. Carter in some of the coming primaries, particularly in Indiana, north Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (Democratic caucuses, not a primary).
* Finally, it is possible that the public may once again rally behind the President in his struggle with Iran.
This happened at the outset of the hostages crisis.
But now the public as whole -- not just the "hawks" --may come to feel it is time to support their President in his efforts to free the hostages.