How Far Will They Go?
It should come as no surprise that forty U.S. senators would decide their role included inserting themselves into the conduct of foreign affairs of the nation. Many of these senators are first termers, conservative and naive about the ways of governing. A telling aspect of these senators' naïveté is that their letter was sent in both English and Arabic. Iran is Persian; Iranians are not Arabs. These senators should be less eager to weaken Obama and try to understand the actual facts of the international situation. Arabic, indeed.
President Obama has to deal with continual challenges to his leadership even when conservative pundits decry his lack of leadership. They only conclusion I can discern is that all of this opposition--beginning with Mitch McConnell's stated goal to make Obama a one-term President--stems from deep racism across the Republican spectrum.
The letter itself innocuously describes our Constitution's delegations of powers regarding international treaties. Its conclusion, however, is troubling: that no agreement that the President might negotiate will be rendered null and void if not approved by the Congress. Why these senators believe they were responsible for educating the Iranian negotiators remains a mystery, unless one considers it an attempt to weaken Secretary of State Kerry's negotiating strength within the international negotiators trying to contain Iran's nuclear programs. The letter does not make any negotiating position nor does it predict failure in the Congress for any treaty that may emerge from the current negotiations. These senators are meddling into affairs of state prior to there being anything of substance in which to meddle. They just want to weaken President Obama on the international stage.
Undercutting a President's ability to conduct foreign affairs according to the Constitution's division of powers is a very serious political tactic that portends a more harmful strategy for the United States. One significant preceding example occurred when General MacArthur challenged President Truman's authority duriing the Korean War. Truman had the ability to handle that challenge within the boundary of the Executive Department. In the instance of this letter, however, the Congress is not constrained by a chain of command.
First, Speaker Boehner invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress without involving the State Department. Second, forty senators send an "open letter" to the leadership of Iran denigrating the power of the President and his Secretary of State to negotiate foreign treaties as permanent agreements. How much further will this racist Republican dissension go? To what end will these Republicans go to discredit Barak Obama, our President?