Talking points for the GOP for decades have been “compassionate conservativism” and trickle-down economics as they claim that the rising tide will lift all boats. Neither conservative economic philosophy nor analogy has proven successful. The real GOP philosophy is corporate rule, low wages, and war, that adds money to the coffers of the wealthy. The 114th Congress has launched its boat onto the waters to drown any policies such as repairing the infrastructure, educating people, helping workers in a crisis, addressing climate change—anything that would contribute to the welfare of the people in the United States.
The current goal of the new GOP Senate is war, as evidenced by Tom Cotton (R-AK), architect of the letter to Iran, that awkwardly tells its leaders that Congress, not the president, is in control of foreign policy. In a speech to the Heritage Foundation, Cotton demanded a halt to any negotiations with Iran explaining that this is the intended consequence of congressional action. In short, “We want war.”
Cotton is riding a bit lower after his appearance yesterday on CBS’ Face the Nation. Other senators have demonstrated their abysmal background in foreign policy, but Cotton may have topped them when he said that Iran’s occupation of Tehran shows the country’s quest for regional domination. In fact, Tehran is the capital of Iran. He also said that he would agree to a deal with Iran only if they immediately dismantled their nuclear weapons—which they don’t have. Cotton wants to duplicate the start of war with Iraq in 2003 with a much worse consequence. Host Bob Schieffer also asked Cotton a very pointed question which made him slightly uncomfortable:
Cotton: “The fact that President Obama doesn’t see this letter as way to get more leverage at the negotiating table just underscores that he is not negotiating for the hardest deal possible.”
Schieffer: “Are you planning to contact any other of our adversaries? Do you plan to check with the North Koreans to make sure they know any deal has to be approved by the Congress?”
Cotton (smiling nervously): “Right now I and most every other senator is focused on stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Soon after the letter became public, a few people tried to defend Cotton with his military record in the Gulf. That failed after others pointed out that negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry has a much more distinguished military record.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said the letter warning that any nuclear deal could be scrapped by a new president was “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” […]
“All countries, according to the international norms, remain faithful to their commitments even after their governments change, but the American senators are officially announcing that at the end of the term of their current government, their commitments will be considered null and void.”
People on the political right have been as critical as those on the left.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and an aide in both Bush administrations, said partisan overtures such as the GOP letter make the world more uncertain, dangerous, and disorderly.
George Pataki, a former Republican governor of New York, said: “Just imagine if, come 2017, there’s a Republican president and a Democratic Congress. … Would Republican senators want a Democratic Senate sending a letter to a country when the president is engaged in negotiations? I don’t think so.”
Fox host Greta Van Susteran said during an appearance on ABC: “I think that letter was horrific. It end runs the president, which I think is terrible. I think they could have achieved the same goal without sending a letter becoming pen pals with the leadership of Iran.”
A major concern from the GOP leadership is that the letter, signed by 47 senators, will hurt its party. One Republican called the letter “a disaster” because “the Democrats have totally framed and owned the debate, and our GOP senators are getting pummeled.” This position is accurate, with conservative newspapers that endorsed Republican senatorial candidates in the last election are now chastising their choices for signing the letters.
The Ohio Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cincinnati Enquirer that endorsed Rob Portman in 2010: “The magnitude of this disgraceful decision,” a Plain Dealer editorial said, “shows the degree to which partisanship has gobbled up rationality on foreign policy.” (Plain Dealer) The letter “diminishes the dignity of the Senate by disparaging the president and presenting an amateur lesson on U.S. governance.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)
The Nashua’s (NH) Telegraph which endorsed Kelly Ayotte in 2010: “One wonders how loud and angry the Republican response would have been if a petty clan of Democratic senators had written an open letter to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev [during nuclear arms talks with Washington].”
The Peoria (IL) Journal Star which endorsed Mark Kirk in 2010: “Our expectations were higher of Kirk.”
The Salt Lake Tribune (UT) which endorsed Orrin Hatch in 2012: “The senators seem determined to build tensions in the Middle East, endanger Israel and greatly increase the chances that the United States will wind up taking military action against Iran.” Headline reads, “Lee, Hatch join a foolish campaign.” [It is to be noted that this newspaper, in the heart of Mormon country, endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2012.]
The Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal which endorsed Dean Heller in 2012: “The ones who may not fully understand how the U.S. government works are Heller and the other signatories…. Imagine if during George W. Bush’s presidency, the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate had written to the leaders of Iraq or Afghanistan that they should not take seriously any agreements hammered out with the White House and our allies because Democrats will try at the earliest opportunity to undo them.”
A huge irony surrounding Cotton’s letter is congressional members’ failure to even discuss—let alone debate or vote on—the war against the self-described Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It’s been going on for over seven months with more than 2,600 airstrikes and the deployment of about 3,000 troops. As GOP members of Congress wail about the president extending his powers, they have taken no action to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allowing for continued expansion of war powers for the executive branch. The GOP will subvert the president by secretly inviting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress and send a subversive letter to Iran, but they won’t take any action in Congress to take over the powers for themselves.
Raised by Democratic parents, Cotton’s “my-way-or-the-highway” philosophy was honed at Harvard where he wrote a thesis agreeing with his perception of the Founder’s opposition to democracy because people are inherently selfish, narrow-minded, and impulsive. According to Cotton, the United States must be led by a class of intellectually superior officeholders whose ambition sets them above other men. In other words, men like him.
Cotton voted against $300 million in federal funding for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock although he tried to convince voters that he had supported the hospital. In the House he was the only Arkansas Republican to vote twice against the farm bill and five times against disaster-aid funding, two areas important to rural Southerners. He was also the only Arkansan to vote for a budget that slashed spending, voucherized Medicare, and raised the Social Security age to 70. He wants food stamps cut because too many recipients live “high on the hog,” and he voted against equal pay legislation and the Violence Against Women Act. He opposed the relief bill for Hurricane Sandy was that it was rushed through, exactly like the letter to Iran as senators were leaving town. Cotton has shown “a harsh, unyielding, judgmental political philosophy, one that makes little allowance for compassion or human weakness,” according to journalist Molly Ball in The Atlantic.
This is the man who is leading 47 senators and at least five wannabe senators around by their noses.