Fair and Unbalanced

Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Bumbling GOP senators now negotiating with Iran to defeat Obama

Statecraft as well thought out as last week’s Department of Homeland Security shutdown.

Littwin: Bumbling GOP senators now negotiating with Iran to defeat Obama

You’ve seen the letter by now, or at least heard about it, the one sent from the GOP’s Tehran 47 to the Iranian mullahs.

The one signed by 47 Republican senators, including McConnell and Paul and Cruz and Rubio and our own Cory Gardner.

The one designed to undercut/sabotage/debase the president of the United States in the eyes of our longstanding enemies, not to mention our closest allies, even as the Obama administration nears the end game in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.

The one that is pretty much unprecedented — you know, in the way that inviting a foreign head of state to rip Obama in a joint session of Congress was pretty much unprecedented.

Behold another clumsy anti-Obama scheme, this time made up as statecraft, that no one could take seriously.

The one that basically says to the Ayatollah, look, do what you need to do, just don’t give an inch to Obama, because, after all, we never would.

The one that purports to be a constitutional advisory that (according to Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith) gets a major chunk of the constitutional part wrong.

The one that goes out of its way to talk down to the Iranians, who, the signatories worry, aren’t sharp enough to understand the Constitution but who are apparently smart enough to make a bunch of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

Yeah, that letter.

Read it again, and then ask yourself this question: Who do you think these senators have humiliated, Obama or themselves?

Let’s give the 47ers the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say that the letter just looks like a demented attempt for Republican senators to ally themselves with Iranian hard-liners in order to deal Obama a defeat, but is in actuality a desperate attempt to save America from what they think is a terrible deal (one that that would, if it works, possibly ensure that Iran doesn’t get a bomb for at least the next 10 or 15 years).

If we concede all that — and I wouldn’t, but I’m ready to listen to the argument — it still looks like a disaster for the Republicans.

As Brian Beutler argues in the New Republic, if the Iranians were to take the letter seriously — which is unlikely, but, again, let’s concede the point for now — they would be more inclined to make a deal immediately, rather than holding out for something better. Because, according to the letter, nothing better is ever coming.

In other words: If Iran’s leaders ever want to get paid off for not making a bomb, they should take the deal as offered. I don’t think John Kerry could put it any better.

What’s curious is trying to decide what exactly the letter writers want the Iranians to do. I’m pretty sure they don’t actually want Iran to have the bomb, any more than I think they believe Obama wants Iran to have the bomb. But let’s break down the logic: If Iran doesn’t take the deal, the West imposes tougher sanctions. If the mullahs don’t want tougher sanctions, they make the deal. If they are prepared to live though tougher sanctions, though, their only possible payoff is to build the bomb.

The letter makes clear, in case the Iranians misunderstand, that Obama is near the end of his term-limited two terms and that senators can be around forever (as if that were possibly a good thing). They actually explain the six-year and four-year thing like we were all back in Jeffco-approved AP U.S. History, wherein all the endings are happy, including the part about getting rid of Obama.

And then there’s the money paragraph:

[W]e 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 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.

Yes, we’re back to executive authority and why this Congress never seems to have its way with Obama. But the Iranians should know that Obama will soon be gone, and then look out, because possible future President Bush/Paul/Walker/Cruz/Rubio/Huckabee/Christie/Carson/etc./etc. will let them have it.

Except this argument doesn’t hold up any better than the previous arguments. Let’s say Iran agrees to the deal with the United States and its negotiating partners. Let’s say that Iran follows the terms of inspections because the Ayatollah has no other option.

Which future president, Republican or otherwise, is going to overturn that plan? The only way this open-letter threat would convince Iran not to take the deal is if Iran already plans to sabotage the deal.

And so we’re left with a clumsy anti-Obama scheme — one that leaves Republicans open to the charge that they’re undermining our foreign policy — that has provoked Democrats, confused our allies and amused the mullahs. If you don’t get the sick joke, just read this closing paragraph:

“We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as negotiations progress.”

I’d say it’s the most we could hope for.

[Top: Texas’s Ted Cruz, left, and Colorado’s Cory Gardner.]

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin


  1. Colin J Guthrie on said:

    I seem to remember the local garbage wrapper – Denver Post – in its support of Cory Gardner over Udall, telling us all about how Gardner was “moderate”, and would “govern” sensibly if elected. “Sensibly”, as in this letter?

    Ah! Well! That’s the local garbage wrapper – Denver Post – at its shining “best”; the paper that continually presents us the likes of Mike Rosen, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, et.al., as Editorialists. The Colorado Teabaghead/Republikkklan Party’s greatest enthusiasts in the push for war, War, MORE WAR! to rule – and RUIN – the U.S.A.

    The Daily Kos has a rather good summation. It calls that bunch of Senators, “TRAITORS”. Not that something such as that ever matters to the Teabaghead/Republikkklan Party cabal.

    Excellent analysis, Mike. Keep up the good work; and show the local garbage wrapper – Denver Post – just what it lost when it decided to become nothing more than a bunch of pimps for Teabaghead/Republikkklanism.

  2. Terry graves on said:

    An open letter to Cory Gardner.
    Dear Senator Gardner, as it was made abundantly clear to us during your campaigns you sir are a true red, white, and blue American Patriot who would do everything in his power to defend this great land and our constitution. Your heroic stance by signing “the letter” shows your leadership abilities. I am sure that once the Iranians give us no choice but to go to war you and the other 46 Patriots will resign your senate seats and enlist to defend this great land or Isreal. Please know that I will be right beside you at the enlistment office. At 62 I probably won’t be that great on patrol, not being as fast as I used to be and not real crazy about 20 mile hikes anymore, but hell I can handle manning the turret in your APR or Humvee. Look at it this way, the two of us could keep a couple of young pups from having to go through that hell. Yours truly, Terry

  3. Robert on said:

    I just saw that Michael fucking Bennette signed the letter…that is two big strikes against this Republican smelling schmuck…

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    It’s difficult to determine who needs a political victory more: President Obama or Mr. Littwin. Both were humiliated in last November’s election. President Obama by voters overwhelming rejection of Democrat candidates and Mr. Littwin by his not-ready-for-prime-time political, uh, insights.

    Both have sought redemption through the ongoing negotiations with Iran aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

    Since November’s rejection President Obama has ignored Congress, acting solely through executive decrees. Mr. Littwin has been silent on the appropriateness of Obama’s strategy and presumably will remain so until a Republican president does the very same thing. But is this strategy good government? Mr. Littwin doesn’t say.

    Neither seems too concerned about the long-range consequences of the deal. The expiration date on President Obama’s concern is January, 2017. Mr. Littwin’s expiration date is longer but in the end he is unconcerned because “if it works, (it will) possibly ensure that Iran doesn’t get a bomb for at least the next 10 or 15 years.” Ah yes, the journalist’s best friend: weasel words: “if it works” and “possibly ensure”. And if doesn’t work and doesn’t ensure? Well, Mr. Littwin doesn’t say. No surprise there.

    Here’s what Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith thinks of a deal reached without congressional approval:

    “The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous. And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.

    Here we can see the under appreciated benefits that accrue when the President succeeds in winning congressional approval for a foreign policy deal (whether it is a treaty, a congressional-executive agreement, or something short of those things). To win such approval the President must expend political capital and convince the American people and its representatives about the value of the deal. The expenditure of presidential capital signals the importance of the deal to the President. If he succeeds in winning approval from Congress, that approval credibly conveys that the nation, as opposed to a particular president, is behind the deal.”

    President Obama has stated that no deal is better than a bad deal but obviously believes a tenuous deal is better than no deal. It’s a belief driven by a desperation to remain relevant.

    And what does Mr. Littwin think? You guessed it, he doesn’t say.

    “I marched with many people back in those days and I have reached out to some of my friends who marched with me, and all of them are shocked,” Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) told Breitbart News. “They never thought they would see this day that gay rights would be equated with civil rights. Not one agreed with this comparison.

    President Obama is a disgrace to the black community,” Owens said. “He is rewriting history. We didn’t suffer and die for gay marriage.”

    The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had closed its investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and would not bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
    NBC News February 24, 2015

     “Justice Department lawyers will recommend that no civil rights charges be brought against the police officer (Darren Wilson) involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., after an F.B.I. investigation found no evidence to support charges, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year. ” New York Times January 21, 2015

    “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
    President Obama redefining “randomly”

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Wounded Warrior Project

    Memorial Day – May 25, 2015

  5. Pingback: Letter to Iran: 47 GOP Senators Lost their Minds | Matt Berg

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