Via Newsbusters, the sedition/treason nonsense of the past 24 hours is just the logical conclusion to two years of left-wing buy-ins on Obama’s power grabs. If you’re willing to let him rewrite parts of ObamaCare to delay the employer mandate, if you’re willing to let him rewrite U.S. immigration law to legalize illegals, then of course you believe he has the authority to execute a major agreement on an enemy power’s nuclear program that’s binding on Congress notwithstanding their treaty power under the Constitution. Go read the Senate GOP’s letter to Iran if you haven’t already. It’s a prosaic recitation of constitutional duties — the Senate is supposed to approve treaties (true), the president knows this and is choosing to ignore them in favor of an “executive agreement” instead (true), and therefore Iran shouldn’t assume that that agreement will be honored once a new executive is in charge (true). If Obama followed the rules by seeking formal Senate ratification, the letter would be unnecessary; Tom Cotton and the GOP could express their opposition by voting it down. But Obama doesn’t follow the rules anymore and the left not only doesn’t care, they consider it borderline seditious to remind the enemy that a return to normal constitutional order may be in the cards once he’s out of office. (As several righties pointed out on Twitter this morning, even Media Matters understands that members of Congress can’t violate the Logan Act by carrying out their legislative duties.) The letter is extraordinary because the conditions that Obama’s contempt for separation of powers has created are extraordinary.
This nuclear deal is not business as usual, says Conn Carroll:
Obama will claim that his deal with Iran is not a treaty but a “sole executive agreement” that requires no approval from Congress. Sole executive agreements have been used by presidents since the early 1800s, but the exact scope of this power has long been in question. The Supreme Court has allowed many such agreements to stand (e.g. Dames & Moore v. Regan or American Insurance Ass’n v. Garamendi), but the Court has always required at least some evidence that Congress at least acquiesced to those policies.
The sole executive agreement power has also been used to end formal arms treaties, most recently by President Bush in 2001 when he unilaterally exited the Anti-Balistic Missile Treaty with Russia. However, new arms deals have almost always been submitted to the Senate for approval, including Bush’s 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty with Russia.
Obama’s nuclear arms deal with Iran would be an unprecedented expansion of this sole executive agreement power.
Right, and don’t forget that the agreement with Iran as it stands right now is explicitly designed to outlast Obama’s administration. That’s what the 10-year framework is about: Iran reduces enrichment now as a show of good faith in return for sanctions being relaxed, and then they’re gradually allowed to increase enrichment over the next decade. The whole point of the deal is to (try to) bind future administrations and future Congresses, an obvious trigger for formal Senate ratification if ever there was one. Obama’s breaking the law, again, and Cotton et al. don’t like it — so naturally it’s Cotton that the left considers guilty of betraying the country as personified by Our Leader. For an example, look no further than Joe Biden, who’s curiously much more offended at seeing the Senate flex its treaty-power muscles now than he was when he was Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
On Twitter, Ace’s co-blogger John Ekdahl called this a nice example of Ace’s point a few years ago about the left’s “MacGuffinization of politics.” Whether the Iran deal is sound or whether Cotton has a point about Obama taking a sustained dump on separation of powers is less important than rebuking the villainous Republicans’ affront to our hero, up to and including accusing them of treason for failing to cede their own constitutional prerogatives to Obama. Matthews is the ultimate example because he’s convinced, as he’s made clear many times, that the GOP treats Obama differently than they would other Democratic presidents due to his race. That’s insane, and will be proved insane repeatedly when you see how tough Republicans are on President Hillary, but you can see why a guy who thinks that way would reach for concepts like “sedition” to understand what’s going on here. If you think they’re out to get poor Barack, or as Matthews phrases it, attempting to “bring down this president,” then of course constitutional niceties and centrifuge numbers don’t matter. Presumably a formal Senate vote rejecting the Iran deal would also be a seditious bid to bring him down, the Constitution notwithstanding. All that matters is the audacity of their resistance. Pass the Enabling Act already.