Contrary to Sarah Palin’s barely coherent contention that the Founding Fathers created the vice presidency as something that was “position flexible,” whatever the hell that means, the VP has only two roles and one of them is that of President of the U.S. Senate. Being that Joe Biden currently occupies this position you can imagine his reaction to the 47 Republican senators who attached their names to a message to Iran’s leadership on Monday.
In the open letter, the senators, speaking directly to Tehran on official senate letterhead and in the most condescending tone fathomable, warn that any nuclear deal struck with the White House would simply be undone by another U.S. president or Congress at some point in the future, therefore any negotiation was futile. The move was nothing more than an outrageous and unprecedented attempt to sabotage the foreign policy of a sitting administration and embarrass the President of the United States by undermining his authority. There’s also a possibility that what these senators did was illegal, given that it would seem to be in violation of the Logan Act.
Iran has already commented, with its foreign minister, Javad Zarif, saying that the senators’ letter is nothing more than “a propaganda ploy” with “no legal value.” But now comes Biden, and in keeping with his reputation as a guy who doesn’t mince words, his scathing response to the reckless bluster of these senators that he presides over pulls no punches.
“I served in the United States Senate for thirty-six years. I believe deeply in its traditions, in its value as an institution, and in its indispensable constitutional role in the conduct of our foreign policy,” it begins. “The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”
Biden goes on to say that the message to Iran “offends” him, as it “ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future president… to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States” and that in his 36 years in the senate he “cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country—much less a longtime foreign adversary—that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them.”
A few lines later, Biden hammers the partisan cynicism and bankruptcy of leadership these 47 Republican senators displayed by going after the potential Iran deal specifically. “As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have… offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine,” he says. “If talks collapse because of Congressional intervention, the United States will be blamed, leaving us with the worst of all worlds. Iran’s nuclear program, currently frozen, would race forward again. We would lack the international unity necessary just to enforce existing sanctions, let alone put in place new ones. Without diplomacy or increased pressure, the need to resort to military force becomes much more likely—at a time when our forces are already engaged in the fight against ISIL.”
But that’s the key right there. These clowns, dazzled by the never-ending cascade of pure reactionary bullshit from the mouth of their de facto leader Benjamin Netanyahu, want hostilities with Iran to the point of all-out war. What they absolutely don’t want is a nuclear deal decades in the making that could prove to be successful and for which Barack Obama would receive credit. They’ll do anything to both continue the hawkish status quo in the Middle East and to delegitimize the Obama presidency here at home.
It would be nice to be able to tell you that they overplayed their hand this time, that while it’s unlikely they’ll face actual criminal charges or at least impeachment, what they did is so rotten that it will poison their own well and provoke condemnation even from those who normally support them. It would be nice. But we’re way past the point where most Americans can overcome the strictures of partisan politics and simply judge between right and wrong. People like Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — each of whom signed the letter — have proven time and again that they’re beyond shame. There’s no way in hell they’re going to wake up in the morning and realize that what they’ve done is disgraceful.
Although, maybe they’ll wake up and see this and will understand that we know it:
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 10, 2015
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.