INDIANAPOLIS, March 10, 2015 – Vice President Joe Biden is shocked, shocked! that 47 Republican senators have written to Iran, filling the mullahs in on how our Constitution works.
“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” President Obama said a few hours after the letter was made public. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
Yes, it is. It is also unusual for a U.S. president to negotiate directly with heads of state that are officially recognized as sponsors of terrorism. It is ironic to profess a policy of not negotiating with terrorists while negotiating with terrorists.
And, to the point of the senators, it is unusual that the senators had to go to the length of writing to Iranian leaders to insulate the United States from a future embarrassment that our president is setting us up for.
President Obama will be out of office in less than two years; any unilateral agreement he thinks he can forge may very well not outlast him – including the 10-year agreement that is being widely reported. How would Iran feel in two years, when it finds out that agreement was with a man, and not with our nation?
No American president, including Obama, holds any kind of absolute power.
“In 36 years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them,” said the Vice President.
But there is no such authority in the Constitution for a president to strike secret foreign deals.
The only commitments the United States has with foreign governments are called “treaties,” and the president can’t enforce a treaty that hasn’t received the consent of the Senate. In 36 years, Biden didn’t learn that.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid decried the Republican senators’ letter, saying, “This is not a time to undermine our commander in chief purely out of spite,” he said. The 47 senators’ action was not out of “spite,” but out of desperation.
The Republicans realize that the president is running his own show, acting as if he has the power to do whatever he wants. That’s one thing when he’s diddling with the laws of our own country – American citizens aren’t building nuclear weapons.
Dianne Feinstein, Democrat, the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, recognized and identified the Republican strategy:
“This letter only serves one purpose — to destroy an ongoing negotiation to reach a diplomatic agreement in its closing days.”
To that, the Republicans might answer, “Well, someone needs to!”
Biden’s statement on the letter derides the Republican letter and falsely represents its context:
“This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American President, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States.”
Maybe he is upset for Obama, who thought, as he told the Russians during his first term, that he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 election. But those nasty Republicans are warning the world that our president consistently operates outside his authority.
Biden continues and makes his point even weaker:
“Around the world, America’s influence depends on its ability to honor its commitments.”
But agreements made informally, like the one Obama is working on, need not be honored by his successor. Iran won’t split those hairs unless they know how things work, and the president certainly won’t tell them.
And the vice president gets even more ironic, when he says,
“The recent U.S.-Russia framework to remove chemical weapons from Syria is only one recent example.”
That was when Obama’s thrice-drawn, thrice-overstepped “red line” policy was rescued… by Putin. And Assad is still in power. Brilliant, no?
And Biden’s fuzzy history is further revealed, when he says,
“Since the beginning of the Republic, presidents have addressed sensitive and high-profile matters in negotiations that culminate in commitments, both binding and non-binding, that Congress does not approve. Under presidents of both parties, such major shifts in American foreign policy as diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China, the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis, and the conclusion of the Vietnam War were all conducted without Congressional approval.”
President Nixon (China recognition) was forced to resign because of his own illegal back-room dealings; the Iran hostage crisis ended literally as President Reagan was taking his oath of office; and Vietnam was a police action, as the United States has not been at war since August of 1945.
History 3, Biden, 0.
Biden digs himself in deeper, as he says,
“This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments—a message that is as false as it is dangerous.”
Our commander-in-chief cannot deliver on his most-basic commitment: to follow and enforce the laws of our nation.
Biden gets one thing right, though.
“As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine.”
It’s not their job, and the president hasn’t asked them. Ever, as far as anyone outside the D.C. inner circle would know.
Wrong, again, Uncle Joe.
“If talks collapse because of Congressional intervention, the United States will be blamed, leaving us with the worst of all worlds.”
In the short term, perhaps; but imagine what would happen when they finally find out that the president of the United States was operating outside his authority, and that he deceived them, all to support a false premise and put a shine on his legacy, at the expense of both America and Iran.
“The president has committed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has made clear that no deal is preferable to a bad deal that fails to achieve this objective, and he has made clear that all options remain on the table.”
Why, if the president says that “all options are on the table” did he attack Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech?