People For the American Way

Iran Letter Shows GOP’s Growing Penchant for Sabotage

Right-wing Republicans have been working to sabotage progress and everything President Obama has done since he took office. Healthcare reform … Wall Street reform … they’ve even launched an all-out national effort to sabotage laws guaranteeing equality for women and LGBT Americans, by seeking “religious” exemptions that would allow blatant discrimination.  

They aggressively tried to sabotage our economy on numerous occasions, including when they shut down the government – once, and threatened to do so several more times – damaging the U.S.’s credit rating.

Now, Republicans in Congress are trying to sabotage U.S. foreign policy.

First, led by John Boehner, they went around President Obama to allow Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to use America’s Congress as a political backdrop for his case against the U.S. administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran.

Most recently, 47 Republican senators sent an open letter to Iran trying to poison diplomatic talks by warning that any deal struck with the U.S. would likely have an expiration date of when this president leaves office. The effort was led by freshman Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who, as a congressman, once warned his constituents against signing up for healthcare on the Affordable Care Act exchange because their identities could be stolen by “Russian mobsters.”

From BloombergView:

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber's entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement," the senators wrote. "The next 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."

Could you imagine if 47 Democratic senators had pulled this kind of stunt under President Bush? Republicans, Fox News and the entire right-wing movement would have led a nationwide freak out beyond imagination.

The backlash to Republicans’ real-life action might be less explosive, but it’s building nonetheless. The New York Daily News labeled them “traitors” on its front page, and WhiteHouse.gov now has a petition someone posted calling for the 47 senators who signed the letter to be tried for treason.

Showing the depths to which the GOP senators had sunk, their letter even elicited a bewildered response from none other than Iran's foreign minister.

[Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress [sic] find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own president and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.

We knew once they won full control of Congress they were going to overreach. Now, it’s the job of all progressives to keep Republicans’ extremism in the spotlight and make sure their arrogance continues to reap a strong and lasting backlash.