Tuesday Reads: Are Republicans Alien Beings?Posted: March 10, 2015
I’m beginning with this lovely painting by Matisse, because I’m trying to calm myself. I’ve been sitting here pondering what makes today’s Republicans so strange. I sometimes feel as if they are another species. They see the world completely differently than the people I grew up with and the people I have known as an adult. Many of my family members were Republicans, and their political views were annoying; but generally I could get along with them as long as we didn’t talk about politics. They didn’t seem like alien beings.
My grandparents were conservative Republicans and so were some of my uncles and aunts. Others in the family were liberals. Yet we all got along by just avoiding touch subjects when we were together. The Republicans in our family were just like the rest of us–they may have thought differently about some things, but that didn’t keep them from being loving and caring people, and they didn’t look different from the rest of us.
My parents’ closest friends were a couple who came from the South. They had Southern accents and they were conservative Republicans. They were even kind of eccentric in some ways–the husband was extremely thrifty and didn’t believe in buying anything on credit; they paid cash for everything–even houses and cars. But they were also intelligent, caring, friendly people and they didn’t look weird like so many GOP politicians do today.
Many of today’s Republican politicians seem hateful and angry, and many of them appear ignorant of how the U.S. government operates and the Constitution on which it is based. As we all know by now, many of these people–mostly men–are also ignorant about female anatomy and how birth control works, and quite frankly, they often appear to hate and fear women generally. They are also ignorant of basic scientific facts.
What is wrong with these people, and where do they come from? Why do so many of Tea Party-style Republicans actually look weird?
Take South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who has been going around ranting and raving about Hillary Clinton’s emails Who is this guy? Tell me he’s not weird-looking.
Here’s a profile shot.
Does his head really come to a point at the top? If not, what’s with the hair? Like many of his Southern Republican colleagues, he looks sickly, pale, and washed out like the banjo player in Deliverance.
Gowdy apparently never heard the old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones, because he got himself in a little trouble yesterday. From the Washington Post: Rep. Trey Gowdy retreats from Benghazi event.
In May, just after he was picked to lead the House select committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy pledged not to raise money off the 2012 attacks in Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
But it was revealed Monday that the South Carolina Republican was scheduled to help a group raise funds at an event called “Beyond Benghazi.”
After The Washington Post inquired about the event, a committee spokesman said that the subject of the fundraiser hadn’t been cleared with the congressman’s office and that Gowdy was pulling out.
Yeah, right. Gowdy had no clue what a fund-raising event called “Beyond Benghazi” was all about.
“He has not raised money using Benghazi, and will not speak about Benghazi at fundraising events. Having been made aware of this group’s plan, he no longer will be participating in the event,” the spokesman, Jamal Ware, said by e-mail.
Later Monday, the event was canceled.The Republican Party of Virginia planned to host Gowdy at a $75-a-head reception that was called “Beyond Benghazi.” You could buy a table for 10 for $1,250 or co-chair the event for $5,000, which includes the table, a “VIP” at your table and a special shout-out.
Now look at Tom Cotton, the organizer of the bizarre GOP open letter to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
To me he looks a lot like Gomer Pyle.
The strange and borderline treasonous letter signed by 47 GOP Senators actually misstated the way treaties are described in the Constitution and how they are to be handled by the Senate. Ishaan Tharoor at The Washington Post: The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran.
As first reported by Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, a group of 47 Republican senators signed a letter addressed to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” warning them not to be too optimistic about ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration over Tehran’s nuclear program. It was organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and advised the Iranian leadership that “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.”
The letter is brief, and can be read in full here. Republican lawmakers are opposed to the Obama administration’s current overtures to Iran, a disagreement that was put into stark relief last week by the polarizing speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress. This is yet another tactic to scupper a potential deal.
It starts with the patronizing premise that “you may not fully understand our Constitutional system” and goes on to explain, first, that any international treaty will need to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and that, unlike the president of the United States, senators “may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” The message to the mullahs: don’t get comfortable with any deal, because we’re going to scrap it as soon as we can.
Whatever its effects in Washington, the letter is almost farcically condescending in word and tone. Iran’s leaders are well aware of how the United States works. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spent the better part of a decade as the Iranian envoy to the United Nations; like many others in the Iranian cabinet, he was partly educated in the United States.
It reflects the willful ignorance on the part of many hawks in Washington who insist on seeing Iran purely as an irrational actor and a permanent regional threat. As WorldViews discussed earlier, Iran is problematic in many ways, and its regime plays a role in fueling proxy wars in parts of the Middle East. But one can argue that the same is true of Washington’s chief Arab ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.
At the Lawfare blog, Jack Goldsmith wrote that Tom Cotton and his Senate colleagues made an “embarrassing” mistake in their strange letter.
The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.” But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis). Or, as this outstanding 2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117): “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.” Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane. Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States. As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.”
Even more embarrassing, Iran’s U.S. educated foreign minister responded to the GOP letter and proceeded to school the Senators on how international law works. From The Tehran Times: Zarif to U.S. senators: You are ignorant of international law.
Many of Iran’s leaders were educated in the U.S. But where did Tom Cotton and his buddies learn about the Constitution, separation of powers, and how foreign policy is handled in the U.S.? Amazingly, he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and did more graduate work at Claremont Graduate University. Was he just not paying attention?
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also graduated from Harvard Law and got his undergraduate degree from Princeton. He also signed the letter and seems confused about the Constitutional duties of the President. He actually wrote an op-ed for Politico in which he claimed Obama was “acting like a monarch.”
From Politifact in May 2014: Ted Cruz says Barack Obama is first president ‘who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore’.
Critics of President Barack Obama have charged that he has regularly exceeded the powers of his office in selectively enforcing the law. Their examples include making recess appointments, issuing executive orders, delaying provisions of his health care law, refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and declining to deport certain categories of young illegal immigrants.
At the 2014 CPAC conference, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated this point to the audience of conservative activists.
Referring to Obama, Cruz said, “This president of the United States is the first president we’ve ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.”
Politifact concluded, based on interviews with historians that several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have “ignored specific laws or constitutional protections,” but they don’t actually offer any specific examples of Obama doing so.
Are these Republicans simply blinded by ideology or are they willfully ignorant, despite attention top U.S. Universities? I honestly don’t know the answer. I know it’s rude of me to call attention to how they look, but I can’t help wondering why so many of the GOP “young turks” look like their parents were cousins. For example, Louisiana’s recently elected Senator “crazy eyes” Bill Cassidy, who looks a lot like Frankenstein’s monster. Cassidy also signed Cotton’s letter to Iran.
Even some of the older GOP Senators who signed the letter have that crazy look:
Am I nuts? I don’t even know if this post makes any sense. Lately I feel as if this country is falling apart. And more and more I get the feeling that Republicans just aren’t like you and me. Where do these people come from and what is wrong with them?
This is an open thread. You can discuss this post or anything else you like. Have a nice Tuesday, everyone!