1 April 2015: Gardner needs to show political maturity

Gardner needs to show political maturity

Senator Cory Gardner needs to explain to his Colorado’s constituency about his signing Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to the Iranian leadership.  Not only was the letter detrimental to the interests of the United States, but it also has cast a chill on his ability to work with President Obama and his Democratic Senate colleagues.

In his campaign against Mark Udall, Gardner took pains to paint himself as a centrist, level-headed conservative who would work across the aisle to break the infamous Washington gridlock.  Putting his name to the inflammatory letter has undermined that.  In so doing, Gardner has aligned himself with the far-right Tea Party fringe of the Republican Party.

In addition to its domestic implications, the letter has reverberated across the international stage from allies like Britain and France, working partners on this endeavor including Russia and China, and our adversaries, in this case Iran.

American foreign policy has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support in that our adversarial politics stopped at the border.  While the letter might not be the first instance of inappropriate congressional involvement in foreign affairs, nevertheless it is not enough to rely on any such previous occurrence as justifying the current counter-productive action.

Especially in these fractured times of American society, it’s critical our government speak with one voice to other national governments.  The President, constitutionally so charged, is that voice and speaks for the nation.

What raises red flags and eyebrows as well is Gardner’s collusion and hobnobbing with Cotton, a take-no-prisoner hawk and poodle of the neo-conservative right, the same folks who brought you the Iraq War.  In Cotton’s 2012 campaign for Congress he aligned himself with neo-con guru Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and has been Kristol’s darling since.

It has been reported Cotton told the conservative Heritage Foundation “The United States must cease all appeasement, conciliation and concessions towards Iran, starting with the sham nuclear negotiations.

“Certain voices call for congressional restraint, urging Congress not to act now lest Iran walk away from the negotiating table, undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But, the end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of Congressional action; it is very much an intended consequence.”

In short, Cotton’s intention was to torpedo the talks and move us to war with Iran.

In its March 10 editorial the Salt Lake Tribune calls the letter “foolish, dangerous and arguably felonious,” given it comes from the same crowd that brought you the War on Iraq.  In addition, Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith, who served twice in George W. Bush’s administration, calls the letter “embarrassing” in that it “purports to teach a constitutional lesson.”

“It appears,” states Goldsmith, “from the letter that the Senators do not understand our constitutional system or the power to make binding agreements.”

Ali Gharib of the Nation suggests a “mean streak” in Cotton.  In 2013 Cotton offered an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill that would automatically “punish family members of sanctions violators.

“There would be no investigation” wrote Cotton since “it’d be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof.”

Cotton apparently wanted to punish innocent people, calling it “corruption of blood.”  His list included “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids.”

1950’s McCarthyism all over again.

Something often lost in the conversation about the troubles in that area are the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians about End Times and The Rapture to which they look forward as Islamic “martyrs” do to their reward of 70 heavenly virgins.  From their perspective, all-out war in the Middle East would be a good thing, being a harbinger of Armageddon.

Finally, the letter demonstrates the dysfunction of the Senate now firmly in Republican grasp.  The world’s erstwhile “most deliberative body” has descended into a frat house cacophony of testosterone-filled young bulls, which apparently includes Gardner, meekly led by a coterie of bumbling, crotchety old men.

“It seems,” opines the Salt Lake Tribune, “that today’s Republican Party is no longer led by statesmen who believe that politics ends at the water’s edge, but by hyper-partisan sword-rattlers who, not that long ago, would not have won the support of grown-ups such as [Sen. Orrin] Hatch.”

Much can be righted if Gardner would repudiate both the letter and his signature on it in line with how several other Republican senators have at least expressed misgivings.  It would be an act of statesmanship that would tell us much about Gardner’s growth and maturity and that he’s not a simple partisan hack.

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