If there has been a more clearly defined example of projection from an American president in recent memory, it’s a struggle to come up with it.
On Sunday night, 47 Senate Republicans penned an open letter to the Iranian government warning them that a nuclear accord that does not enjoy the support of the majority party in the U.S. Senate will not be ratified. If that is the case, these Republicans warned that any agreement reached will not outlast the Obama presidency.
Predictably, Democrats were outrageously outraged by the egregious affront to the president’s dignity. Sharing in that outrage, apparently, are the members of the Iranian government in Tehran.
“In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”
Iran FM Zarif rips letter of 47 US Senators as "propaganda ploy" by lawmakers who "do not understand int'l law" or "their own constitution."
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) March 9, 2015
For some on the left, this insulting and propagandist attack on Republicans was so good that it had to be repeated almost verbatim and with feeling:
It seems that the Iranian foreign minister has a better understanding of U.S. diplomatic traditions than GOP senators http://t.co/Mb9auvXrMW
— Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) March 9, 2015
As he is wont to do, President Obama could not merely sit back and allow his surrogates to make the case that his honor had been insulted by the impertinent members of the majority party operating a co-equal branch of government. Before entering a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, the president accused Republicans of sympathizing with the Iranian theocrats.
“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Obama opined. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
“I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we’re going to get a deal or not. Once we do, if we do, we’ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I’m confident we’ll be able to implement it,” Obama said.
That’s rich, particularly considering how enthusiastically the Obama administration and the Islamic Republic’s government in Tehran are working toward a nuclear deal. If anyone is making “common cause,” it is not congressional Republicans who would like to prevent Iran from acquiring a fissionable device and Iran’s hardline elements who want nothing more than to fast track their nuclear program.
In fact, the White House’s frustration with Republicans for merely reminding Tehran that the American system is a constitutional one in which the power of the president is checked by the legislative branch is generating quite a bit more frustration than it should.
WH says if nuke deal is reached with Iran it won't be a treaty subject to Senate ratification.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 9, 2015
Perhaps it is Obama who has more in common with “hard-liners in Iran” than he would care to admit.