It wasn’t about TRAITORS, as the New York Daily News headline screamed. It was closer to “idiocy,” as the slightly more dignified New York Times editorial board suggested.
It seems — and this may not be a shock — that the 47 letter signers, including Colorado’s own Cory Gardner, had no idea what they were doing. That’s the only logic that makes any sense: They had no idea it would cause such controversy. They had no idea that it was anything other than another in an endless series of shots taken at Barack Obama. They had no idea it would be even more incendiary than the Bibi invite. And, besides, you think any of them had ever heard of the Logan Act? (Had you? I know I hadn’t.)
That has to be the answer, doesn’t it?
Maybe. It’s certainly the answer you get if you read John McCain’s near-admission to something resembling idiocy. It was McCain who told Politico that the 47 signing senators were rushing out of town because of an impending snowstorm — and might not have taken enough time to fully consider the consequences.[pullquote]’Iran is a prime example of where we can and should work together.’ Yes, Sen. Gardner.[/pullquote]
And so it seems as if climate change made them do it, although not man-made climate change, of course.
Here’s the McCain explanation if you missed it: “It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.”
Yes, more discussion might have helped. More discussion might have led someone to foresee that this letter would force those Democrats willing to line up with Republicans on Iran to have to choose — and that they would obviously choose Obama. More discussion might have led someone to suggest that this may be the worst Iran-related idea out of Washington since Bud McFarlane’s alleged cake.
I mean, when they signed the letter, could the 47ers really have expected that respected foreign policy experts would write that Republicans hate Obama more than they hate a nuclear Iran?
Did they see a #47Traitors Twitter hashtag trending?
Could they have guessed that Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith would write that the constitutional lesson in the lesson actually got the constitutional part all wrong?
For an answer read the Politico story. Or if you’re rushed by the weather, all you have to do is read the headline: “Iran Letter Blowback Startles GOP.” They never saw it coming. And, oh, it was idiocy, all right, and on almost every count. Except for the treason part. Come on, these guys aren’t traitors. They’re just American-loving Obama bashers.
In any case, the McCain explanation wasn’t the only one. Rand Paul’s explanation, for example, had nothing to do with the weather. Paul signed the letter, after all, even though he’s the rare Republican who actually thinks that Obama should be negotiating with Iran.
Paul signed the letter, he said, because he wanted “to strengthen the president’s hand.” That’s what he said.
Cory Gardner, meanwhile, blamed Obama for reacting to the letter that undermined Obama. What else? According to Gardner, the real problem was not with the letter, but with the Democratic response. If only they had ignored it, as the snow-swept Republicans apparently expected them to.
Gardner told the Denver Post that Obama’s reaction was all about distracting people. If that sounds familiar, it’s only because during his Senate campaign, Gardner called virtually every criticism pointed at him a bid to distract people. And so in going after Obama, he tried this for old time’s sake: “If you listen to the reaction of the administration, they are in hyperdrive trying to downplay what’s really at stake. That’s why the president is trying so hard to distract people from the real issue.”
Of course it was the Republicans who provided the distraction by writing the letter. They distracted everyone from the Hillary Clinton email scandal that was going at full boil. Instead, the letter demanded a choice: Would you vote for someone who used a private email server or someone who offers constitutional-law courses to enemy mullahs?
My favorite part of Gardner’s explanation came when he was asked how this letter helped him fulfill his campaign pledge to work to end Washington dysfunction. He said that “Iran was a prime example of where we can and should work together.”
Tom Cotton, who wrote the letter, must have agreed, sort of. He has insisted the letter wasn’t meant to be for Republicans only and that he had approached Democrats about signing it. But Politico couldn’t find a single Democrat who had been approached, and, as far as I know, Cotton hasn’t volunteered any.
But then again, he may have been distracted. There’s no snow this weekend, but, you know, it’s starting to look like Spring. And a young senator’s fancy lightly turns to… the next fight.