Saturday, March 14, 2015

An Open Letter to Senator Mitch McConnell: Why No One Wants to Consult You


Dear Senator McConnell:
You were recently quoted in the local press as saying, “You just have to be suspicious as to why the administration would not want our participation” in reference to your claim that the White House has not sought ‘Congressional input into the negotiations over the Iran nuclear arms deal.’
As someone who served as an American diplomat for more than 30 years, I can agree with you that congressional input and advice on sensitive negotiations is important, and is a crucial element of American foreign policy. But, I must also say that I’m surprised that you would wonder why the current administration would be reluctant to consult you and your colleagues at this point in our history.
There’s an old saying I recall from growing up in East Texas – ‘Sleep with dogs, and wake up with fleas.’ These days, Senator, you have made your bed with a pack of undisciplined pups that don’t seem to have been house broken. Let’s look at the record, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
The most recent, and in my view most egregious, action was the signing and transmission to Iran a letter signed by 47 Republican senators basically threatening to ‘overrule any deal made by the current administration.’ That even the Iranian foreign minister points out how inappropriate such a missive is should not be lost on someone with as much time in the Senate as you have. These 47, supposedly intelligent people, seem to have forgotten that there are legitimate and appropriate channels to express congressional disapproval of treaties and agreements, and none of them involve the direct communication with a foreign power.
Speaking of foreign powers, when the GOP speaker of the House issued an invitation to a foreign head of government to speak before congress regarding an issue currently being negotiated with the P-5 – without the courtesy of even informing the President in advance – this was not just a breach of protocol. It was a disingenuous and devious act that displayed disdain and disrespect not just for the incumbent, but for the office of the President.
The GOP tantrums over presidential executive orders, which was accompanied by a ton of disinformation and outright falsehoods regarding the number of executive orders president Obama has issued, was more like playground squabbling than the deliberations of rational people who have the good of the whole country at heart. Executive orders, while not explicitly provided for in the Constitution, have been a part of our politics for many years. Presidents have been issuing them for ages: Here are some examples of who issued how many:
                Truman                  907
                Eisenhower            484
                Kennedy                214
                Nixon                    346
                Ford                      169
                Carter                   320
                Reagan                  381
                Bush, G.H.W.       169
                Clinton                  364
                Bush, G.W.           291
                Obama                 194
               
I find the GOP’s sometimes rabid opposition to the Affordable Care Act mind boggling. Can’t your colleagues read and recall history, or are they just ignorant? The current legislation is eerily similar to a Republican proposal that failed to make it through a Democrat-controlled congress, and much like legislation former presidential-candidate Romney passed into law when he was a governor. What’s going through the minds of the opponents of a law that finally provides affordable health coverage to Americans who were previously left out in the cold?
Let’s get real. You consult people you trust, and that trust must be earned. What have most of your colleagues—yourself included—done to earn anyone’s trust lately? Maybe if you’d put the good of the people, and not just a narrow minority of the most wealthy, ahead of getting reelected, it would be easier to make the kind of compromises and take the actions that would restore sanity to American politics and clear the toxic fumes from the air.
I sincerely hope you are reflecting on that in the days ahead. Let’s roll up the papers and smack a few unruly pups on the nose to dissuade them from doing their ‘business’ on the carpet.
Respectfully,

A Concerned American


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