Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has some explaining to do.
He needs to explain to the people of Ohio exactly why it is a good idea to participate in an act of interference along with 46 other Republican Senators.
Senator Portman needs to share the reasoning as to why the Senate Republicans feel it is their right to undermine the Executive Branch in the arena of foreign policy. Why does the Junior Senator from Ohio feel he and his fellow caucus members need to undermine, attempt to derail, and imply the President and Secretary of State cannot negotiate in good faith because Senator Portman and his fellow travelers may throw a tantrum?
The letter (read it here) is not only condescending in its tone and construction, it is also a thinly veiled threat. The Republican majority of the Senate of the United States is saying any agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on. The implication made by the Senate is they expect to have the White House in 2017. Any of the GOP’s potential candidates will strike down an agreement. The policy of the GOP for years has been, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. However, they are ignoring the fact the U.S. is working with allies to negotiate a deal. To walk away in 2017 – should the GOP take the White House – would result in major, if not catastrophic, diplomatic repercussions.
These Republican Senators are likely not guilty of treason, sedition, or a violation of the Logan Act – I’ll leave that to legal scholars to mull over. The disturbing thing is this follows so closely the misguided move by Speaker Boehner (R-OH) of sidestepping established protocol and inviting the Prime Minister of Israel to address a joint session of Congress behind the President’s back. (That may be a Logan Act violation. Again I defer to members of the Bar.)
The message the Congressional Republicans seem to be sending the world is they aren’t even going to pretend President Obama is the ELECTED head of our government. They seem to have unabashedly brought the idea he is not the legitimate leader out for all to see.
I’m old enough to remember the division over Vietnam. I remember Nixon.
I’ve never seen anything like this.
These recent moves are fraught with peril for the Majority Party. By our hardliners undermining POTUS and implying we are an untrustworthy negotiating partner they are hoping to strengthen the hand of the Iranian hardliners. Thus they hope we can get locked into a Mobius loop of finger pointing, blustering, and sabre rattling.
The Iranian hardliners will cause problems. Our hardliners will try to ratchet up sanctions. Each will condemn and blame each other. Eventually we may see the war Senators McCain and Graham seem to long for.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel that may not be a freight train.
These patently political maneuvers may help the negotiating team. They need only to point out that this is their best chance to get an agreement. The team can also point out that while lecturing the Iranians on the U.S. Constitution, the Congress is rather clueless on how it actually works. On the whole, throughout our history, we have been loathe to break an agreement that is actually working. If the Iranians live up to their end, as they have been during the temporary agreement, it would be exceedingly difficult to justify breaking it and going to war.
So, we need to ask Senator Portman if he wants to be aligned with outright warmonger like Senator Cotton of Arkansas. Portman has presented himself as a moderate, reasonable Senator. This in spite of voting to forbid to allow the Department of Defense to use climate change science in planning. Or voting for the 20 week abortion ban. Or walking lockstep of assorted cliffs with his caucus.
Since Portman is on the record now as trying to sabotage these crucial nuke talks I expect him to try to explain the hubris and attempt to not sound like Ted Cruz or Tom Cotton.
He should be hammered over this in the upcoming defense of his seat. If the man doesn’t have the integrity to perform his duties, he needs to go.