Just when you thought the rancor in Washington could not get any worse…
In yet another partisan effort to undermine and embarrass the president, 47 Republican senators, including four presidential candidates, signed an open letter to “The Leaders of the Republic of Iran” which in essence says that any agreement reached with this president may not be worth the paper on which it is written.
The senators begin with what I perceive to be a condescending lesson on our Constitution and the powers of the president to conduct business on behalf of the country:
“…you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution…the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices…which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.”
The letter goes on to say that while the president negotiates international agreements it is the Congress that must ratify the agreement to make it binding. “Anything not approved by congress is a mere executive agreement.”
Having schooled the assumedly clueless Iranians on an abbreviated version of Civics 101 the signers take a crack at undermining the staying power of any agreement by delving into the always riveting subject of term limits:
‘Second…the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January of 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then - perhaps decades.”
The letter closes by informing the Iranians that without congressional approval any agreement reached with this president has a short term shelf life:
“What these two constitutional provisions mean is that that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms at any time.”
Freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), the author and initiator of this reckless tactic, said that the signers were concerned that the Iranian negotiators may not have been familiar with our system of government and they wanted to make clear that Congress would have to weigh in for any deal to be binding long term. Senator Cotton is being disingenuous. His reasoning strains credulity and is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
It is really difficult to put into words my reaction to this unprecedented effort to damage a sitting president on the international stage.
Reckless is the first word that comes to mind. Iran is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world. A nuclear armed Iran would be our worst nightmare. These sensitive negotiations and possible treaty may be the only thing standing between us and a third world war. Not only does this letter jeopardize the president’s ability to come up with a peaceful diplomatic solution it sends a message to our enemies that the president’s word is meaningless.
Not only is this missive reckless it is thoughtless. The letter sends a bad message to our allies. Does America have their back? Can America be trusted to stand behind its agreements?
This letter is shortsighted as well. A dangerous precedent has now been set. Will future congressional leaders feel embolden to circumvent or demean their president on the international stage? Can you imagine the reaction from “Tea Party Patriots” if a Democratic congress were ever to pull such a stunt on a sitting Republican president? I can see them marching down Pennsylvania Avenue…wrapped in their patriotism…waving their flags…shouting “hang the traitors from the highest tree.”
The Republican Party’s hatred of this president knows no bounds. It is divisive, destructive, dangerous, short sighted and to some degree racist. It strains the very democratic tenants and moral fiber on which this country was founded. There is no place for it in our society.
The Republicans have taken their clown show overseas; and we are all the worse for it.