They are also determined to obstruct President Obama’s foreign policy initiatives at any cost, even if that means embarrassing the United States.
Instead of constructively participating in negotiations with Iran regarding the development of their nuclear program, 47 Republican senators chose to write an “open letter” to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic in Iran.
Within this letter, the senators seem to assume that the leaders of Iran have little to no idea how the U.S. government works, a ballsy assertion to say the least.
They cheekily instruct the leaders of another sovereign nation that Congress is responsible for ratifying foreign agreements, and anything not ratified will simply exist as a “mere executive agreement.”
The senators kindly made sure to point out that while President Obama will be out the door come January 2017, the senators signing the letter will be in office “well beyond then—perhaps decades.”
In case you thought the purpose of the letter could not be more obvious, Republicans decided to cap it off with an explanation of the explanation they just provided: “What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.”
“The next such president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iran’s state news service that the letter suggested a “decay of political ethics in the American system.”
Freshman Senator Tom Cotton was the ringleader in sending the open letter to Iran, and he told CBS News that he had “no regrets at all” for giving a crash course in U.S. government to the leaders of a sovereign nation.
“It’s so important we communicated this message straight to Iran,” Cotton said.
Cotton’s letter has drawn criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News, “I’m not going to apologize for the unconstitutional, un-thought-out action by somebody who’s been in the United States Senate for 60-something days. That’s just inappropriate.”
Even a few of the senators that apparently signed the letter with a bit too much haste have started to reconsider their actions.
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) told The Huffington Post that perhaps issuing the letter to the sovereign leaders of Iran was not such a great idea.
The letter “could have been addressed to other folks and gotten the message out,” Roberts said.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) noted, “If there was any regret, tactically, it probably would have been better just to have it be an open letter addressed to no one.”
So, Democrats are furious and even some Republicans are regretting the decision to sign the letter.
What was the point of this grotesque piece of political theater?
Perhaps Republicans thought it might help their chances for re-election if they continued to oppose every action the President takes, just as they have been doing since 2008 when President Obama was elected.
Perhaps they just wanted to be viewed as “tough on Iran.”
Since the publication of the letter, however, it has become clear that Republicans’ hopes to be in office for “perhaps decades” may have become seriously deflated.
Newspapers that endorsed Republican letter-signers for office have taken some of the legislators to task.
Illinois’ Peoria Journal Star endorsed Senator Mark Kirk in 2010, but noted that “Our expectations were higher of Kirk.”
Similarly, in New Hampshire, Senator Kelly Ayotte was blasted by the Telegraph of Nashua for signing Cotton’s letter.
Republican legislators being blasted by Republican newspapers? Ouch.
Between the audacity of the letter to Iran and Speaker Boehner’s invitation for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak on the House floor without the President’s approval, it is clear Republicans are not going to recover any time soon from their increasingly embarrassing foreign policy blunders.
Let us just hope Tom Cotton and friends remember another aspect of American government: the power of voters to vote irresponsible legislators out of office.
-Henry Ashton ’15, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor