Thursday, September 10, 2015

Silence the Spoilers

Josh Earnest, perhaps one of the smarmiest press secretaries I've seen whose attitude accurately mirrors that of his boss, described Congress' role in determining the fate of JCPOA as "spoilers". It is unfortunate that Earnest either has no working knowledge of the Constitution or like his boss just refuses to adhere to its limitations.

It is an inconvenient point of fact that the Founders built much latitude into the Constitution in terms of the President's ability to conduct foreign policy. But when it came to negotiating pivotal agreements between America and other sovereigns, the Founders also included an important check and balance which they did in so many cases.

Specifically, if the President during the course of conducting the country's foreign policy chose to negotiate an agreement with another country which committed the United States to military, economic or diplomatic ties that would bind the country into future administrations, the Senate was required to confirm this arrangement with a super majority approval.

Josh Earnest's boss doesn't seem to hold this requirement in high regard. Regrettably, neither do many mainstream Republicans.

Today, Mitch McConnell pushed a vote to the Senate floor on the Corker-Cardin bill that turned the Senate's responsibility on its head. In place of having to obtain a super majority to approve JCPOA, Harry Reid brilliantly punked the Republican majority by insisting that a legislative review of JCPOA was all the minority would permit. Petrified - as is customary - the McConnell/Boehner regime agreed, believing this presented their only opportunity to opine on JCPOA with the consent of the minority. Were the parties' positions to be reversed, and a Republican president was in the White House, does anyone imagine Harry Reid agreeing to this?

With 42 Democrat votes in support of JCPOA and 60 votes required to end debate and drive the bill to an up or down vote, the bill passed 58 - 42, but 2 short of the necessary 60. There will not be a vote on the merits of JCPOA and, more importantly, Obama will not be forced to veto a bill to proceed with JCPOA.

This is a brilliant procedural victory for Obama and the Ayatollah. It is another humiliating defeat for the mousy McConnell and establishment Republicans. This will be followed shortly by passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government - with $500 bil going to Planned Parenthood - because McConnell has already announced his pending capitulation.

I accept the fact I'm somewhat obsessed by this issue, but giving international legitimacy to a nuclear program driven by the world's terrorist vanguard which has defied every, single, UN resolution against it is a profoundly bad idea. Besides that, the President and his team assured the public, long before any understanding was reached with the Islamic Republic, that certain minimal performance requirements would have to met. As all the president's men skunked the Republicans, so did the Ayatollah take John Kerry and Ernest Moniz and play them like a Ghanoon.

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have been shamed, intimidated and neutered by Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Their worst nightmare is to be accused of being obstructionists, racists, unwilling to work in a "bipartisan" manner. It's unfortunate they were elected to be obstructionists, to oppose Obama's agenda, to end executive amnesty, to repeal Obamacare, and to stop this catastrophic agreement with Iran. They have failed spectacularly.

So, the JCPOA is favored by 21% of Americans. Like Obamacare, this agreement will proceed without any Republican votes. But instead of being mere irritants, this time the Republicans could have actually stopped this treaty from implementation. Had the Senate insisted at the outset - long before Bob Corker had the chance to make his own lasting contribution to the last 7 years of Republican failure - that it would only consider JCPOA as the treaty it is, there would not have been 67 votes to legitimize an Iranian nuclear program.

Would Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France have lifted sanctions regardless of what transpired in the U.S.? No question. Russia, particularly, is so deeply entrenched with Iran that there would be no secret, UN defying nuclear program in the first place without them. Certainly, it is inconceivable that North Korea could become a nuclear power without at least a nod and wink from China. Russia and China are chronic, consistent bad actors and they cloak themselves in Security Council robes to insulate themselves from their provocative actions. They are hardly in a position to monitor Iran's compliance with JCPOA.

Why the rush to enter into an agreement with Iran? Obama's rationale is that they were dangerously close to a nuclear breakout and this was the only way to prevent it. But the cynical among us (ok, yes, that's me) believe the rush has been driven by the rapid approach of Obama's retirement. If the President and his party were so convinced of the JCPOA's benefit and security, why push the filibuster? Why not have the issue debated and voted upon? The Dems knew they had these 42 votes; knew they had enough votes to prevent any veto override.

But just as nearly every one of those 42 votes couched their support with words like "it isn't perfect" and "there are some elements that trouble me", they continued to cast their lot with Obama and could not see his "victory" tarnished by having to override a veto. The only option, then?

Silence the spoilers.

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