On March 9, 2015, forty-seven members of the United States Senate carelessly signed a letter that was generically addressed as “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Nation of Iran.” This group followed the lead of Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), a freshman member of the Senate who is approaching completion of his third month in that office. Cotton is an Army veteran of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars, and with that, my niceties have concluded.
Text of the letter:
A quick civics lesson for the junior Senator: in the United States, the President is both the head of government AND the head of state. Not any one member of the Senate, any group of Senators, or even the entire Senate can change that. Additionally, as detailed by Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, the embarrassing letter is technically wrong in that the Senate does not “ratify” treaties. This is fascinating, since Senator Cotton graduated from, you guessed it, the Harvard School of Law. Apparently, he was “sick the day they taught law at law school” (Tom Cruise– A Few Good Men).
More importantly though is what appears to be a troubling trend in Congress. Disagreeing with the President does not change the constitutionally created power structure. Senators, I encourage you to stomp and scream as much as you can regarding policies with which you disagree. But the invite of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress was at best, inappropriate, and the Senate letter to Iran is absolutely mutinous.
“Mutinous” is an awesome new word to me that has been used to describe the Senate letter by retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton. I really have to hand it to this Congress, it was just three months ago when Speaker Boehner issued his “prebuttal” regarding President Obama’s immigration executive order. “Prebuttal” was also a new word to me that I am committed to using when I can which so far has been not at all. And now, it appears 47 members of the U.S. Senate have signed a letter to Iran in an attempt to disagree with our own President’s deal….before said deal has been made. It’s becoming a thought provocative vocabulary exercise in Washington, and while entertaining to me, I am concluding that the best word I can use to describe it is still simply “stupid.”
The biggest disappointment in this episode is not that an idiot Senator sent an idiotic letter, but that 46 other members of the Senate signed it. There are some signatories to that letter that I used to respect. Now I am too embarrassed to identify who those people are (were).
It is important to look on the bright side for a moment and make clear that for Hoosiers, neither Senator Dan Coats (R) or Senator Joe Donnelly (D) got duped into this one. Whew!
Consider this week’s rant as The Contrarian’s letter to Congress. Attempting to undermine the Executive or Judicial Branches of Government does not change the fact that the Legislative Branch is running deep in third place of the “doing your own damn job” race. I’m curious really, is the U.S. Congress’ approval rating higher here at home or in Iran? Given the numbers here, I am betting it’s inside the margin of error.
In closing, it is hard not to pause and think of Senator Cotton’s service during his tours of duty as a lieutenant in the Army. I certainly hope for all of the servicemen under his command that this week was the first week his name and the word “mutinous” have been used in the same sentence.