When Senate Republican amateur, I mean freshman, Tom Cotton of Arkansas organized an open letter to the government of Iran in an attempt to circumvent and sabotage the Obama administration's leadership in negotiations with Iran, he wasn't counting on setting off the huge backlash it has generated.
Vice President Biden - a veteran of the Senate - has called the letter beneath the dignity of the Senate, pointing out that the GOP signers ignore 200 years of American tradition and undermine the ability of future presidents - of any party - to negotiate on America's behalf.
Sens. Boxer and Sanders openly accused the 47 Republican signatories of the letter of wanting to force the United States into another war in the middle east, as had the letter had its intended effect in causing Iran to withdraw from the negotiations, war would become more likely.
The president himself was even more blistering and unforgiving. Gunning straight for the GOP's patriotism racket, the President wondered aloud about Congressional Republicans making common cause with Iranian hardliners.
In the mean time, the coverage of the letter has been so bad that the signers of the letter have been reduced to taking lessons about international law and foreign policy from the Foreign Minister of Iran, while the hashtags "GOPtreason" and "GOPtraitors" have been trending on social media.
Needless to say, what Republicans thought would be a super platform from which to derail President Obama's aim to use diplomacy to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is crashing down on them like a house of cards. Heck, even Fox News has dropped the GOP on this one, choosing instead to focus on the Hillary email ... scandal.
The problem this presents for the Republicans may well be bigger than a temporary scandal, though. This letter, like Netanyahu's botched visit to Congress, came out of desperation than Barack Obama is serious - and maybe closer than many think - about solving the Iran issue through diplomatic channels, and if he is successful, another shock-and-awe in the mideast will remain only a twinkle in John McCain's eyes.
The amateurish part of is that Republicans are baring their desperation for everyone to see across the world. This may force the negotiators - which include all five permanent members of the UN Security Council - and especially Iran to realize that the window on a peaceful deal to solve Iran's nuclear ambitions is fast closing, and that they need to act fast. In that way, the global right wing (including Likud in Israel) may end up playing a vital but unintended role in making a deal more likely, not less so.
What of some future president being able to undo such a deal with the stroke of a pen, as the GOP so crassly claimed? As the Republican signatories had to be schooled by the Iranian FM, if and when this deal comes down the pike, it won't be in the form of a bilateral treaty between the US and Iran but rather as a UN Security Council resolution, and the Senate has already consented to that vote by the US Permanent Representative to the UN when they confirmed her. Oops.
Irony, thy name is GOP.
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