"Big Dick" Cheney denounces Congress for interfering with the president's Iran policy -- in 1987, that is
Those were the days: President Reagan with Rep. Bob Michel (left) and then-Rep. "Younger Big Dick" Cheney in 1988
This is wonderful. Yesterday, as I was inviting one and all to play my beloved game of "If the shoe was on the other foot," with regard to these last two weeks' Congressional Adventures in Foreign Policy Encroachment, I didn't realize that Daily Kos's Jon Perr had done just that, in a Monday post called "Cheney: Congress must not interfere with the president's Iran policy."
What? "Big Dick" Cheney taking President Obama's side?
Alas, even if you didn't catch the "catch" on your own, I'm afraid I've already blown it in my post title. The wrath of Big Dick was vented not over the current congressional interference with presidential foriegn-policy-making, but in 1987 over Congress's utterly legitimate exercise of a modicum of congressional oversight -- the very thing the Constitution encourages -- regarding President Reagan's mad-dog foreign-policy cowboying.
Here's the start of Jon's post (links onsite):
In less than a week, congressional Republicans have taken two unprecedented steps to undermine the foreign policy of a sitting American president. Last Tuesday, they offered Capitol Hill as a global stage to a foreign leader—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel—to sabotage the U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran. And this weekend, 47 GOP senators sent a letter to the leadership in Tehran warning the Islamic Republic that Congress—or the next president—could blow up any nuclear deal at any time.Yeah, right. Now, of course, when we have the clown princes of the "Crackpot 114th" Congress genuinely trying to usurp presidential powers, well, the shoe is clearly on some other foot.
But one Republican leader—Dick Cheney—furiously condemned congressional interference with the president's policy toward Iran. Condemned it, that is, provided the president was Ronald Reagan and the issue wasn't limiting Iran's arsenal, but enhancing it.
That's right. In the wake of the arms-for-hostages scandal that engulfed President Reagan in 1986, the minority Republican response to the congressional Iran-Contra investigation declared that Congress, not the White House, had done something wrong. Joined then by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (who also signed this week's letter) among other GOP leaders, Cheney didn't just denounce the majority's findings as "clearly cast in such a partisan tone," but insisted President Reagan had the constitutional authority to ignore the congressional ban on aid to the Nicaraguan Contras:
"Judgments about the Iran-Contra Affair ultimately must rest upon one's views about the proper roles of Congress and the President in foreign policy. ... [T]hroughout the Nation's history, Congress has accepted substantial exercises of Presidential power -- in the conduct of diplomacy, the use of force and covert action -- which had no basis in statute and only a general basis in the Constitution itself. ... [M]uch of what President Reagan did in his actions toward Nicaragua and Iran were constitutionally protected exercises of inherent Presidential powers. ... [T]he power of the purse ... is not and was never intended to be a license for Congress to usurp Presidential powers and functions."