By now, anyone who regularly reads this blog is aware of the letter sent to Iran by 47 Republican Senators.
Vice-President Biden’s response was–considering the provocation–temperate.
The Constitution vests authority for international relations in the President, as the Supreme Court has confirmed. Until we elected a President named Obama, there was also widespread political consensus that partisan squabbles stopped at the water’s edge.
The appalling conduct of Congressional Republicans–first, thumbing their nose at the President by circumventing protocol and inviting Netanyahu, and now, with an effort to sabotage delicate negotiations with Iran (and in so doing probably plunge the nation into yet another war)–is surely illegal, if not traitorous.
My friend Bill Groth is a lawyer who has researched the Logan Act, 18 U.S.C. § 953. He reports:
It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Here’s what it says: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
In 1936 the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304, noted that the President is the sole constitutional representative of the U.S. with regard to foreign nations.
Even people who detested and despised George W. Bush, who believed his decisions were taking the country down a dangerous, wrong-headed road, never stooped to this level. And while I never expected to agree with Dick Cheney about anything, here’s what he said about the respective roles of Congress and the Executive when the shoe was on the other foot:
[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 –[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.”
Elections are the remedy for Presidential decisions with which we disagree.
When elected lawmakers allow their hatred of a President to outweigh their duty to their country, they are unfit for public office.