That letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators could well destroy critical bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy for years to come and treacherously undermine the bargaining power of the person constitutionally authorized to conduct American affairs abroad—the President of the United States. On top of what House Speaker John Boehner did by unilaterally inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, this letter seriously points to one terrible conclusion: a formidable number of Congressional Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.
These acts go entirely beyond legitimate criticism of presidential actions abroad. They are not like a few legislators wandering in foreign lands and expressing their disagreement with their government. They surely exceed the usual congressional resolutions of disagreement with presidential policy.
What the 47 did was not a trivial matter or “a tempest in a teapot,” as Senator John McCain has described it. It could well affect possible Iranian concessions in the end game. The ayatollahs could well conclude from that letter that concessions they might have made just aren’t worth it politically, as the agreement would go nowhere anyway. They’d be taking political risks for nothing.
Beyond these negotiations, the effects on our national security may well be profound and lasting. Just look at the future implications of what these Republican senators said in their letter. They maintained, in effect, that this thing a President of the United States has been negotiating will either be thrown out by Congress or discarded by the next president, so don’t waste your time. Did the 47 even consider how future Congresses would apply such words to future presidents?