The Mullahs Are Laughing

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So it turns out that the senators also have a pen and a phone. In the face of President Obama’s vow to use his pen and his phone independently of Congress, which he is doing in dealing with the Iranian mullahs, 47 senators sent a letter warning the Iranian mullahs that they want no part of the deal that the mullahs are preparing to strike with Mr. Obama. It won’t bind the United States, they remind — and can’t, absent ratification of a treaty in the Senate. Mr. Obama is fit to be tied, but he has no one to blame but himself.

Not that we’re impressed by the senatorial epistle. It strikes us as an error of judgment, though less of one than Mr. Obama made by treating with the mullahs in the first place. Why reach out to the mullahs at all? Why brief them on the enumerated powers of the Congress and the fine points of our constitutional system? Let the mullahs figure that out themselves — if and when the Republican leadership manages actually to pass a sanction and override a veto. That’s the way to teach them the Constitution.

Our soundings don’t leave us optimistic that Menendez-Kirk will gain a veto-proof majority. Even if it does, it grants to the president certain waiver authority. It wouldn’t be easy for the president to exercise the waiver in good faith. But good faith has been at such a premium in Washington that we’re little reassured by the conditions Menendez-Kirk places on the president’s use of the waiver. We learned that in the case of the Jerusalem Embassy Act (our post is still at Tel Aviv, ten years after it was required to be moved).

Nor is it clear to us that anyone will be able to enforce the other piece of legislation dealing with the Iran appeasement. Known as the Corker Bill, it purports to “require” that any agreement Mr. Obama reaches with the mullahs be “approved” by Congress. But it puts the burden on the Senate. To disapprove the agreement, the Senate need enough votes for cloture. In other words, under Senator Corker’s measure, a majority of senators could disapprove of the Obama-Iran agreement without it being “disapproved.”

Welcome to Washington. What must the mullahs make of this? It reminds us of the editorial in the Jewish Daily Forward after Chamberlain and Daladier inked the Munich Pact. The paper spoke of the “Fascist devil” who, in Hitler, “made a fool of his terrified opponents, of the democratic countries and the whole civilized world.” The Forward imagined the Nazi tyrant rolling around laughing: “I, Hitler, now appear as the defender of the Holy principle of self-determination of peoples.” That’s what the mullahs are doing now, laughing.

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