Blue State Blues: A Senate Without Virtue, or Pride

This week, it became clear that the Iran deal will fail to muster the votes to override the president’s veto of Congress’s disapproval. In the Senate, the GOP may even lack the votes to stop Democrats from filibustering.

The fact that Minority Leader Harry Reid wants to protect his members from having to vote on the Iran deal at all tells us exactly how bad it is.

But it also tells us how weak the Republican opposition to the Iran deal has been from the start. And there must be political consequences.

Earlier this year, Republican leaders in Washington pulled a bait-and-switch with the Corker bill (a.k.a. the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act). They objected to the fact that the president was not going to submit the Iran deal to the Senate as a treaty, requiring two-thirds ratification, and offered the Corker bill as if it reasserted Congress’s constitutional power.

In fact, the Corker bill gutted that constitutional power, effectively lowering the Iran deal’s hurdle to a one-third vote of either of the two houses.

Many conservatives were taken in by the con–as was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Now, an unnamed AIPAC official is reportedly blaming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in March for pushing Democrats to rally around Obama.

But AIPAC only has itself to blame. It backed the Corker bill and opposed any amendments that would have strengthened it, such as requirements that Iran give up support for terror or recognize the state of Israel.

AIPAC’s aim was to preserve the “bipartisan” façade of support for Israel, even as Democrats deserted the cause. In so doing, it sowed the seeds of its own defeat.

The blame must also be shared by Republican leaders in the Senate, who refused to defend the powers of the upper house against Obama’s unconstitutional maneuvers–which included not only framing the Iran deal as an “executive agreement,” but also taking the deal to the UN Security Council before Congress had a chance to see it. (As of today, Congress still has not been shown all side deals pertaining to the Iran deal, as the Corker bill still requires.)

The Democrats who are now lining up to support the Iran deal are using false and discredited talking points–such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s claim on Wednesday that the deal will “block” Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.

But for sheer chutzpah, nothing trumps the statement of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who referred to the Holocaust in defending his support for the Iran deal.

His relationship with the Jewish community, Booker said, taught him that “monumental tragedy was preventable if only more people recognized evil and took action to stop it.” He voted for the Iran deal anyway, claiming he still shared the goal of stopping the regime’s genocidal ambitions. At least in theory.

Quite aside from the dubious substance of their claims, it is worth noting that not a single Democrat–not one–who supports the deal has expressed concern about the way in which its passage is gutting the Constitution itself.

The notion that passing a treaty through the Senate is “physically impossible,” as Secretary of State John Kerry claims, is a lie, easily disproved by several examples during the Obama era.

Kerry’s real problem is not with Congress, but with the Constitution, which he swore an oath to defend.

We have come to expect as much from Democrats, who increasingly join President Barack Obama in regarding the Constitution as just another institution of white privilege that must either bend to the times or be cast aside in the name of “social justice.”

Yet the fact that Republicans have done so little to defend the Constitution, after regaining Congress on the strength of Tea Party-fueled opposition to Obama’s unconstitutional power grabs, is infuriating.

The cowardice of the Senate Republican leadership is something even the far-sighted Framers of the Constitution did not anticipate when shaping the Treaty Clause.

In Federalist No. 66, Alexander Hamilton reassured Americans there was little chance of the Senate collaborating “with the executive in betraying the interests of the nation in a ruinous treaty.” The guarantee against such treaties would be “the numbers and characters of those who are to make them,” he said.

In diplomacy, Hamilton added, “So far as might concern the misbehavior of the Executive in perverting the instructions or contravening the views of the Senate, we need not be apprehensive of the want of a disposition in that body to punish the abuse of their confidence or to vindicate their own authority. We may thus far count upon their pride, if not upon their virtue.”

Virtue was lost long ago. And now the Senate has abandoned pride as well.


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