By: Benjamin Weingarten
That a short letter penned by an Iraq War veteran and signed by 46 of his colleagues in the Senate would earn the ridicule, scorn and derision of the left, while generating wobbliness among the more politically craven members of the right, is a testament to its virtue.
The primarily pedagogic letter’s detractors have invoked the Logan Act, signing a petition calling for the prosecution of the letter’s signatories on grounds of treason. But little could be further from treasonous than publicly opposing a policy that legitimizes and empowers a mortal enemy of America and her interests.
Worse still, legislators who in actuality undermined American interests by negotiating with our enemies are mentioned in the same light. This list of shame includes: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi among others.
The truth of the matter is that Sen. Cotton’s letter sticks in the craw of the left, causing it’s partisans to resort to ad hominem and absurd attacks. They do so primarily for four reasons:
1. Sen. Cotton’s letter forces the left to defend the indefensible
Whether addressing the congressional speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the letter authored by Sen. Tom Cotton, the left rarely attacks on substance because it realizes the content of its opponents’ message is credible, and the character of the messengers is widely seen as unimpeachable.
The same cannot be said however of the deal that President Barack Obama seeks to consummate, and the parties sitting at the negotiating table.
Across the political spectrum Iran is seen as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.
Iran and her proxies have drawn the blood of America and her allies for decades.
Iran has been forthright in stating its desire to destroy Israel.
Iran has demonstrated — and continues to demonstrate – its willingness to lie, deceive and cheat with respect to the size and nature of its nuclear program.
It is further unquestioned that a nuclear-armed Iran will have grave consequences including acceleration and expansion of the Middle East’s arms race.
It is also crystal clear that the Obama administration does not have the will or desire to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and is rumored to have stymied Israel’s own plans to conduct such an operation.
Finally, the Obama administration has opposed at every turn efforts to implement tougher sanctions that would aim to economically cripple, and politically undermine its mullahs.
To date, the president has instead chosen to ease sanctions on Iran, facilitating the flow of billions of dollars back into its ailing economy, and tacitly supported its elite forces in their fight against the Islamic State. Further, the president has sought to portray Iran as a pillar of Middle East stability and perhaps America’s top ally in the region over Israel. He has done so while concurrently negotiating a deal that by published accounts will allow Iran to enrich uranium and ultimately develop a nuclear bomb — even if Iran is fully compliant with the terms of the accord. These actions have served to legitimize and empower Tehran, while at the same time increasing the threat to the United States and her allies.
One could make the case that regardless of the outcome of negotiations, Iran has already won. Its leaders have already declared victory through triumphant word and deed.
For these reasons, any actions that challenge the president’s negotiations shine a spotlight on a disastrous policy, forcing the left into the uncomfortable spot of defending the self-evidently indefensible.
2. Sen. Cotton’s letter represents a direct challenge to President Obama
There is little that unites the left more than attacks on the policies of President Obama, which it reflexively spins as attacks on the president himself.
This is most clearly evidenced by pundits such as Chris Matthews, who implied Sen. Cotton and his colleagues are racists for signing a letter that is singularly factual and aimed at questions of policy.
In the eyes of the left, the least-vetted, least-challenged president in the modern era must never be touched.
Should anyone have the temerity to do so, the left closes ranks and pillories the offender.
Even the few members of the left who brazenly challenge the Iran policy of President Obama face the administration’s wrath.
3. Sen. Cotton had the gall to actually invoke the Constitution in defense of his action
Back in October 2009, then-Speaker Pelosi was famously asked what part of the Constitution authorized Obamacare’s individual mandate. Her response? “Are you serious?”
Give the Congresswoman credit for her candor.
In that moment she perfectly crystallized the modern left’s view of the Constitution – it is an afterthought, a powerless piece of parchment should it stand as an impediment to Democrat designs.
Does anyone honestly believe that the left is upset at Sen. Cotton’s actions because he did not follow some sort of protocol to which the left has never subjected itself, and which the Constitution does not require? Does the left honestly believe either in letter or spirit that Cotton and his colleagues actually violated the Logan Act?
Rarely have the Democrats during the Obama reign argued for the sanctity of protocol, let alone the rule of law – except when it comes to others voicing opinions they find inconsistent with their narrative and/or harmful to their agenda (e.g., Netanyahu’s speech before Congress).
Senator Cotton is not violating either the Constitution or the Logan Act by writing a letter that informs Iran as to the Senate’s prerogative on foreign policy, and illustrates the weakness of an unratified agreement in the first place. If anything, he is pointing out to the Iranian leadership how the US Government was set-up to work – checks and balances of which some in the Obama administration and on the left seem sorely unaware.
4. Sen. Cotton’s letter contains painful truths
If the negotiations that President Obama was unilaterally conducting with a genocidal jihadist regime were in the best interest of the United States, a letter such as Sen. Cotton’s would be dismissed out of hand and simply ignored.
At most, Democrats would welcome it as discrediting of Republicans.
Yet the left has not attacked the letter on either of these bases.
To the contrary, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and Secretary of State John Kerry have both been forced to acknowledge that Sen. Cotton and his colleagues are correct in noting that any nuclear deal is nonbinding on the next president, should it not be placed before the US Senate and have at least 67 senators agree to ratify it.
This is a hard pill to swallow for the left in general and President Obama in particular, given that from the beginning of his presidency, he has made unconditional negotiations with Iran a central part of his foreign policy.
An Iran deal may indeed serve as President Obama’s only foreign policy legacy in light of the Arab Spring turning to winter, and the increasingly bellicose and unrestrained postures of Russia and China looming large.
Given what we know about Iran, one can only hope that history does not afford Mr. Obama this “legacy.”