Tom Cotton and 46 other senators have published an open letter to the government of Iran, in which they lay out the constitutional framework within which a president of the United States can negotiate international agreements. They point out that under Article II of the Constitution, an agreement with Iran has the status of a treaty only if it is ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. Otherwise, it is a mere deal with President Obama that can be repudiated by any future president.
To my knowledge, no one has tried to deny that what the letter says is accurate. Nevertheless, liberals are hysterically denouncing the Republican senators for reminding, not just the government of Iran, but the Obama administration and the American people, of what the Constitution says. As Scott noted earlier this morning, the New York Daily News has branded the 47 senators as traitors. Chris Matthews says that pretty much the entire Republican Senate delegation should be jailed under the Logan Act. Countless liberals on Twitter are echoing the Daily News in denouncing the Republicans as traitors.
As Paul notes, this is a bizarre reaction to an open letter that simply sets out basic constitutional principles. Paul points out that there is no analogy to prior incidents where groups of Congressmen and others have secretly tried to cooperate with hostile governments. I would add another instance to that list: Ted Kennedy’s secret attempt to collaborate with the KGB in order to swing the 1984 presidential election to the Democrats. In this instance, Tom Cotton and his colleagues are not secretly conspiring with Iran to sell out the interests of the United States and its allies. That is, perhaps, what the Obama administration is doing. The Republican senators are publicly trying to prevent America’s most bitter enemy from getting nuclear weapons.
The Democrats’ cries of “treason” may be silly, but they are not meaningless. They tell us what liberals really think. Liberals (not all liberals, but most who are politically active on the Left) believe that nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of the leftward march of history. Certainly not the Constitution. In liberals’ minds, publicly citing the Constitution as an obstacle to executive action (by a Democratic president, of course, not a Republican one) is an act of lèse-majesté. To remind the American people of what the Constitution says is, if inconvenient to a Democratic administration, treasonous. Is that extreme, even crazy? Yes, but it is where American liberalism is today.