fresh voices from the front lines of change







Several observers have commented on the condescending “Schoolhouse Rock” tone of Sen. Tom Cotton’s open letter to Iran. He explains the basics of the U.S. Constitution to note that the “next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Cotton, of course, knows less about the terms of a possible agreement than the Iranians, and other nations, involved in the negotiations. The Iranians are well aware that the parties are pursuing a technically “nonbinding” agreement. We could renege on the deal in time. So could they. But the point of a deal is to craft a way that if Iran reneges, we would know and have the ability to respond militarily if desired.

But I also have to entertain the possibility that Cotton, a Harvard Law grad, knows less about the U.S. Constitution than most. If he fully understood it, he would know that he needs 67 Senate votes if he’s going to act like he can override a presidential veto and overrule the president’s foreign policy initiatives. And his letter only has 47 signatures.

As I noted in Real Clear Politics earlier this week, Senate Republicans need at least 13 Senate Democrats to override Obama’s veto. To get them to break with Obama, “public opinion will have to be squarely with Netanyahu, not just nationally but in the senators’ respective states, with at least some division within the Democratic base.”

But Cotton’s strategy of brazen disrespect to Obama makes it politically toxic for Senate Democrats to side with Republicans and destroy what could be the president’s most historic foreign policy achievement.

Either he doesn’t know how to count votes, or is more interested in counting Fox News media hits than counting votes.

Whatever the real reason, the fact that nearly every Republican signed on to this ridiculous strategy is further evidence that this Republican Party is incapable of governing like grownups. At least in this instance, their incompetence won’t shut down the government, but might actually increase the odds of an Iranian agreement that put the region on a path to peace.

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