About those 47 GOP senators' letter to Iran: Let's play "If the shoe was on the other foot" with the "Crackpot 114th" Congress
Who gave Ted the pencil?
"Republicans said they would only agree to talks [with the president] if there were no preconditions, such as recognizing President Obama’s existence."
-- from a Borowitz Report today, "Iran Offers to Mediate
Talks Between Republicans and Obama" (see below)
Talks Between Republicans and Obama" (see below)
One thing you can't say about the current session of Congress: that the "Crackpot 114th" isn't living up to its name.
Does everyone (anyone?) remember the time half-witted WJM-TV news anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) went on the air and winged his own blitheringly idiotic station editorial? And news director Lou Grant (Ed Asner) came storming out of his office prepared to vent his wrath on newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), who preempted him by informing him that Ted had written it himself, and the enraged Lou demanded to know, "Who gave him the pencil?"
Well might we ask who gave those 47 mad-as-a-hatter GOP senators the pencil with which they scrivened their "open letter" to "leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran." This is the letter Howie wrote about earlier today, in "Tom Cotton Writes A Letter To Iran"), the letter cooked up by pea-brained Arkansas freshman Sen. Tom Cotton which, as the NYT's Peter Baker put it, "appeared aimed at unraveling a framework agreement [on a "nuclear deal"] even as negotiators grew close to reaching it." The letter, of course, offered those "leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" a lesson of sorts on the constitutional system, warning them that any stuff that this President Obama fella says can be unsaid as soon as we Americans get ourselves a proper non-Kenyan Muslim president.
Have you noticed that we hardly ever hear the once-revered maxim that "politics ends at the water's edge," once ritually invoked anytime one political party or another ventured close to interfering with the president's conduct of foreign policy? I guess it's just another of those little niceties that's gone missing along with the GOP's sense of responsibility and sanity.
In fact, I suppose you could venture that the root cause of the 47 GOP senators' letter is a smoldering feeling of having been upstaged by "Sunny John" Boehner's House GOP Crackpot Caucus over the invitation to Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu to deliver a campaign speech before Congress. without consulting the White House. That theatrical masterstroke must appear to what we can only call the "GOP mind" as really enviable political showmanship, and the new-to-the-majority Senate GOP may no longer wish to fall back on the excuse that their House crackpot compatriots came into the Crackpot 114th with more experience staging their brand of Majority Crackpot Theater, leaving the Senate GOP-ers playing catch-up.
But you know what we haven't done in ages? Play our fun-for-all-ages favorite game, "If the shoe was on the other foot"!
Can you imagine if a Democratic-controlled Congress had played such games at the expense of a Republican president? The Right-Wing Noise Machine would be in full thundering screech, and demands would be echoing throughout the Right-Wing Echo Chamber for the heads of the "Democrat" traitors.
Howie already reported the startled and dismissive response to the letter by Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, which puts the 47 GOP senators in the hopefully awkward position of being way farther out of touch with reality than the Iranian leadership.
Practically speaking the letter has two practical effects, not counting the domestic political points to be scored among Americans who don't know anything about Iran except that it's evil. Rather obviously, it strengthens the hand of the Iranian hard-liners, who can now ridicule any pretense that Americans can be trusted to be negotiating in good faith. Do the Cottonites understand that they have formed a political coalition with the most dangerous elements inside Iran? Hard to say, but "understanding" anything isn't high on their list of priorities. If there isn't an old saying about crackpots of a feather flocking together, there ought to be.
The other practical effect is ever so slightly subtler. As Peter Baker reports:
A senior American official said the letter probably would not stop an agreement from being reached, but could make it harder to blame Iran if the talks fail. “The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the negotiations.This is certainly not likely to be of concern to right-wing crackpots, who live, not in the real world, but in the sordid hell that is their substitute for imaginations, but for those of us who continue to dwell in reality, there is a high price to be paid for making it impossible to negotiate with other countries.
It's worth remembering that seven GOP senators declined to sign the letter, and some have even had unkind things to say about it. One optimistic way of putting this would be that, on this evidence, and at least on this issue, the Senate majority caucus is registering only 89 percent in the crackpot column. So you might say we can choose to view this, taking the most hopeful view, as either a "glass 89 percent empty" or a "glass 11 percent full" situation.
THE BOROWITZ REPORT (on newyorker.com)
TEHRAN (The Borowitz Report) -- Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.
“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”
He said that his nation was the “logical choice” to jumpstart negotiations between Obama and the Republicans because “it has become clear that both sides currently talk more to Iran than to each other.”
He invited Obama and the Republicans to meet in Tehran to hash out their differences and called on world powers to force the two bitter foes to the bargaining table, adding, “It is time to stop the madness.”
Hours after Iran made its offer, President Obama said that he was willing to meet with his congressional adversaries under the auspices of Tehran, but questioned whether “any deal reached with Republicans is worth the paper it’s written on.”
For their part, the Republicans said they would only agree to talks if there were no preconditions, such as recognizing President Obama’s existence.