In 2012, Mitt Romney railed about 47 percent of Americans who aren't doing their job. Ironically, we could say the same thing about 47 percent of our U.S. Senators, who showed their ineptitude with a letter, which, ironically, could increase the chances of a deal with Iran.
Several Republicans, led by newly-minted Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, showing his inexperience (who said the Iran regime was in charge of Tehran, which happens to be their capital), penned a letter to Iran's leaders to claim that any deal with Barack Obama would be short-lived, as he would leave office soon and they would still be around, and in charge, and wouldn't honor the deal. Some GOP presidential candidates trumpeted support for the letter.
Military leaders chewed out the Republican Senators, calling them out for what it was: cheap politics. Polls showed a majority of the Americans were against such a letter. World leaders, including conservative British and German governments, called out the letter-writers for their unprofessional nature. Some Democrats are signing on to some petition calling them "traitors." That's too far, of course, but the ineptitude exhibited by Republicans deserves a face-palm, even from conservatives.
Several of those GOP signatories expressed regret for signing their names to the letter. They used all kinds of excuses. It was just an attempt to "be cheeky" and have some fun. Bad weather was on its way, and they didn't have time to read the whole thing. It wasn't a real letter, because they published it online. They just didn't realize how bad it would sound. I kid you not. All of these are actual excuses used by actual Republican signers of the Cotton letter. Now others who signed it are backing away from that letter.
Tennessee GOP Senator Bob Corker didn't sign it. While some Republican politicians were trying to play to their "base" or a bad caricature of it, he was doing the job his colleagues should have been doing: lining up bipartisan support in the Senate. He had just about secured a veto-proof majority for his position on Iran. Now...well, after that letter, who knows?
Many of those Republicans who wrote the letter were educated in elite schools, but you have to wonder what they were studying. A short analysis of American diplomatic history, or even the U.S. Constitution, will tell you that the Executive Branch negotiates the deals and signs them. Yet Congress plays the role of making such deals legal by ratifying them. For any GOP Senator whining about not being included in the negotiations, well, it gets embarrassing.
It probably goes back to the War of 1812, where the public has been incorrectly told by some lame pseudo-history books (I found another in Barnes & Noble the other day) that the conflict ended in December of 1814, so the Battle of New Orleans doesn't count. That deal with Britain wasn't finalized until the ratification in February of 1815 (that's your part, Congress!) in 1815, AFTER the Battle of New Orleans.
Perhaps if they had hit the books hard enough, they might learn that President Woodrow Wilson signed the Treaty of Versailles to end World War I, but the Republican Senate (that's your cue, Congress!) rejected the deal and we never joined the League of Nations, and were technically at war with Germany for two more years, though no shots were fired.
The Founding Fathers wrote an important role for Congress in foreign policymaking. I just wish some of them would read what their job responsibilities are, and, you know, be constitutional.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.