Congressional GOP leaders sent a letter to Iranian leaders earlier this week that has continued to spark controversy ever since. In the letter, GOP leaders suggested that any peace deal reached with the Obama White House might not survive his departure from office in January of 2017, when a newly elected president takes over.
The GOP letter to Iran proved to continue being a source of controversy and sparked immediate, strong reactions by numerous sources. Many of these responses have been highly critical. The White House has suggested that the 47 GOP Congressmen were reckless in their actions, having severely overstepped their boundaries, undermined the constitutional roles of separation of power, and particularly breached the authority of the executive branch of government. The White House even went so far as to insinuate that the GOP was siding with Iranian hard-liners, and risking a war in the process. Major news publications were also often quite critical, including The New York Daily News, which put the image of four prominent GOP congressmen who signed the letter – Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul on their cover, with the term “Traitors” underneath in huge letters, all capitalized.
Many Americans voiced their disapproval as well, suggesting that the GOP leaders had gone too far, and that their actions were a disservice to the nation as a whole. In a recent poll, 60 percent of Americans knew something about the letter, with 42 percent feeling that the letter was inappropriate, and 28 percent feeling that it was appropriate. These were similar numbers to poll approval numbers regarding the controversial address to a GOP dominated Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. There was a partisan political divide among those polled, with most Democrats opposing the letter, and most Republicans in favor of it.
Yet, likely 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls were a little more careful, although mostly supportive. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush expressed support for the message in the letter, as did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Former New York Governor George Pataki, however, who himself is considering a run in 2016, broke with most Republicans to suggest that the letter was out of line. He asked the GOP if they would want a Democratic Congress taking similar actions if a Republican is in the White House following the next election. He felt that it was inappropriate for Congress to take such action independently in reaching out to a foreign government. Likely Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton blasted the letter as running counter to the best traditions of American democracy, and discredited those who wrote the letter.
Earlier today, Iran’s supreme leader Ayotolla Ali Khamenei assured that controversy would continue to be sparked by weighing in on the story of the GOP letter, suggesting that this is evidence that the United States was deteriorating. Khamenei said that it was a sign of a collapse in American ethics in politics. He went on to say that, historically, American politicians normally honored commitments made in the past even when government power changed hands. The closer each side is to a deal, he suggested, the more Americans voice threats and rely on deceit. He also referred to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “Zionist clown”.
By Charles Bordeau
Washington Post (1)
Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad – Flickr License