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August 22nd, 2017

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Regrets for doing the right thing

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published March 17, 2015

 Regrets for doing the right thing

We can add senators to bread, toilet paper and milk to the list of panic items when the snow flies. Fortunately, the snow won't fly again in Washington until next year if we're lucky, but the senators are still here.

Everyone is familiar with the panic in the nation's capital when there's a snowflake in the weather forecast. Panic! Fright! Stampede! Schools close, the government shuts down and within minutes there's not a loaf of bread, quart of milk or roll of toilet paper left on a supermarket shelf. No one is safe on Capitol Hill as congressmen race for the airports, squealing like banshees, elbowing old ladies out of the way and knocking over small children.

The White House orchestrated a Democratic campaign to accuse 47 Republican senators of everything up to and including treason for writing a letter to the mullahs in Tehran, warning them that Congress can undo any sweetheart deal President Obama makes. The deal, depending on point of view, would (1) protect the world from the Islamic bomb, or (2) protect the mullahs in their race for the bomb. Some of the senators looked for a dumpster to climb under, in a panic for cover for doing the right thing.

John McCain, a loud Republican voice on security and foreign affairs and a signer of the letter, took refuge in a snow job, protection from the hail of sticks and stones.

"It was kind of a very rapid process," he says. "Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it given the blowback there is."

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin doesn't regret signing the letter but he wishes now it had not been addressed to the ayatollah and his mullahs. Those guys cut off people's heads, after all. "I suppose the only regret is who it's addressed to," he says. The senators could have addressed it to the Obama administration, or to the people. Or to the cat.

Mr. McCain, like the cat, got his back up later when the usual European suspects, always looking for a fainting couch when they feel an attack of the vapors coming on, added their voices to the din of orchestrated criticism. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, visiting in Washington, complained that the senators might have hurt the feelings of the Iranians. They're very sensitive, and might think Americans are not trustworthy.

"This is no small matter, he said, "and not just a matter of American domestic politics." That jerked Mr. McCain out of his apologizing mood. "This is the same guy who refuses, in his government, to enact any restrictions on the behavior of Vladimir Putin, who is slaughtering Ukrainians as we speak. He has no credibility."

The din that matters most is the growing chorus of those who see clearly what President Obama is up to. He's not so much concerned with what's in the agreement that he's offering to the mullahs, but about getting a deal, any deal, to put a shine on his legacy, which ain't much.

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calls the deal — as it has leaked in dribs and drabs — "an unprecedented act of surrender" because it would only interrupt, but not stop, Iran's pursuit of an Islamic bomb. "This deal is fundamentally flawed," he says. "There really is no deal I'd trust Iran with. It is a regime determined to have nuclear weapons and this deal will give it to them."

He has more: "The president coddles the Iranian ayatollah and attacks his own countrymen and our closest allied over this deal. The danger we hope to avoid is now imminent. This is just one example of how the president doesn't care about America's national security."

The president has brought it on himself. Only yesterday he declared, with calculated emphasis and a bit of bravado, that Iran would never be allowed to develop and build a nuclear weapon. Now he promises some sort of Rube Goldberg scheme to "manage" an Iranian bomb, but only for 10 years.

Republican politicians as a breed are slow to learn. When they do the right thing the slightest criticism provokes them to tug a forelock, lapse into the apology mode, and imagine that respectful cowering will make censure and reproof go away. It never does.

Some senators do understand this. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a freshman senator (and Iraq war veteran) who wrote the infamous letter, has neither regret for what the letter says nor for who it was addressed to. "I'll always stand against what I believe is wrong and dangerous for America."

He gets it.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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