Rand Paul

Rand Paul: Iran Letter Was Meant to Strengthen President's Hand

To show Iranians there are hardliners in an effort to squeeze a better deal.

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NBC News

In an interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the Today show this morning, Matt Lauer skipped over the motivation for Senate Republicans' open letter to Iran and asked Paul instead whether if he were president he would want a group of senators "undermining" his delicate negotiations.

Paul rejected the premise, claiming he signed the letter because he wanted to "strengthen the president's hand" by reminding Iran of the U.S.'s own hardliners. Paul also reiterated that sanctions on Iran would have to be lifted by Congress. Watch this portion of the interview below:

Paul was working on a more "moderate" sanctions bill with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), but nothing in the multilateral Iran negotiations has yet required any change to sanctions legislation. If a deal is agreed to, Congress will have to lift much of the U.S. sanctions by repealing the associated laws. Congress could decide not to do so but that decision wouldn't stop other countries parties to the deal, France, the U.K, Germany, Russia, and China from lifting their own sanctions, without which the American sanctions are far weaker.

The letter from Senate Republicans to Iran treads no new ground—in that way it was similar to Netanyahu's address to Congress earlier this month, targeted more toward appealing to the domestic hardline audience than actually influencing negotiations. As with the Netanyahu address, the Iran letter also had some Obama supporters screaming "treason." Those sensibilities, naturally, were absent when Democrats tried to "undermine" (woefully inadequately) President Bush's foreign policy. Joe Biden thought the letter was beneath the Senate's dignity but when he was in the Senate he didn't shy away from calling out the foreign policies of multiple presidents.

On Twitter Glenn Greenwald pointed to a Teddy Roosevelt quote popular in that era, that a president "should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct," and that anything less than being at liberty to speak out about his actions was "base and servile." Negotiations with Iran could yet prove to be a success—especially if they result in no new responsibilities for the U.S. to monitor or subsidize Iran's nuclear program, and no obligation for the U.S. to attack on the whim of other countries' decision-makers.

Rand Paul is not his father, but neither does he appear to be thirsty for a war with Iran, an idea with surprising staying power on the national political scene. It's no Munich moment for Paul, who still seems like he'd be a more authentically anti-war (or pro–less war) candidate than any serious contender this century, the present occupant of the White House included. But even if negotiations are a positive step, speaking out against them is certainly not "treason," not even for elected officials. 

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  1. On Twitter Glenn Greenwald pointed to a Teddy Roosevelt quote popular in that era, that a president “should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct…”

    Uh, I’d like to point out that they didn’t have Twitter in that era. But it’s an applicable quote only when a president in question is from the opposite party. Duh.

  2. Isn’t it kind of a false choice – either we give The Obama and Lurch a dissent-free foreign policy OR we got to WAR?

  3. Rand Paul is not his father, but neither does he appear to be thirsty for a war with Iran, an idea with surprising staying power on the national political scene.

    Rand Paul is not his father, an idea with surprising staying power. Or, not appearing to be thirsty for war with Iran, an idea with surprising staying power. Got me confuzzled.

  4. I don’t think he should have signed the letter but the freak out has been hysterical and also kind of distrubing. Over 100,000 Democrats and progressives signed a petittion demanding the Obama administration arrest the “47 traitors” and charge them with treason.

    So, in effect, they are demanding that Obama purge his opposition from government on the pretense of them having violated a 220 year old law. That’s some hardcore authoritarian nonsense.

    1. You’re shitting me!

    2. cite? there is a petiotion at whitehouse.gov demanding that the logan act be enforced with 10k sigs. or is this another over 9000 executive order things you heard on alex jones?

      1. The petition at WhiteHouse.gov is over 160K but thanks for playing.

      2. cite? there is a petiotion at whitehouse.gov demanding that the logan act be enforced with 10k sigs…

        And, I say unto thee, ask and it shall be received.

        Brietbart helpfully pointed out today:

        And if Republicans supposedly violated the Logan Act, so did these Democrats:

        Senators John Sparkman (D-AL) and George McGovern (D-SD). The two Senators visited Cuba and met with government actors there in 1975. They said that they did not act on behalf of the United States, so the State Department ignored their activity.

        Senator Teddy Kennedy (D-MA). In 1983, Teddy Kennedy sent emissaries to the Soviets to undermine Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.

        House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX). In 1984, 10 Democrats sent a letter to Daniel Ortega Saavedra, the head of the military dictatorship in Nicaragua, praising Saavedra for “taking steps to open up the political process in your country.” House Speaker Jim Wright signed the letter.

        In 1987, Wright worked out a deal to bring Ortega to the United States to visit with lawmakers.

  5. I’m impressed by Rand Paul’s response.

    It further strengthens my impression that he is well qualified to be President of the United States.

    There certainly isn’t anyone else in the Republican Party that I would vote for.

    I understand Rand Paul isn’t as libertarian as I’d like him to be, but his willingness to cross lines and seek common ground with everybody from students at Howard University to the likes of Mitch McConnell makes me think that he is much more likely to win the Presidency than his father.

    Incidentally, I haven’t seen the story written up here at Reason about the Rand Paul/Mitch McConnell alliance, but it’s an important story.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/ra…..1425853137

    Rand Paul will NOT have to give up his Senate race in order to run for president because of his alliance with Mitch McConnell, and Mitch McConnell will almost certainly endorse Rand Paul for President. When that happens, when Rand Paul gets an establishment Republican celebrity to endorse him like that, it’s going to make establishment primary voters and establishment donors take notice. This is probably a big deal.

    1. I’m sure McConnell would love to see Rand Paul leave a semi-permanent seat in the Senate for a 1 term stint as president.

      1. McConnell is glad that Rand Paul supported him in his last election–because he thought the Kentucky Tea Party contingent was going to kick his establishment ass to the curb.

        Whether Rand Paul wins the nomination or loses, McConnell’s Republican constituency in Kentucky is going to be Tea Party (rather than establishment) for a long time to come. Rand Paul’s got him by the balls.

        It was…politically skillful for Rand Paul to take someone that could have been an easily dispatched enemy and turn him into a political asset–that he can leverage to help win the support of other Republican establishment people in the primaries.

        Ron Paul was great at riling up his base. Rand Paul’s got that, too,m and he keeps saying all the right things–and making all the right political moves his father could never make. Rand Paul is making inroads with the establishment?

        And he gives sight to poor blind children in Guatemala.

        http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/m…..1553987833

    2. Rand Paul will NOT have to give up his Senate race in order to run for president

      I thought Kentucky law pretty much forces him to choose.

      1. From the WSJ article I linked above:

        “Mr. Paul used his clout among conservatives to help Mr. McConnell, his fellow Kentucky Republican, win re-election last year and fulfill a long-held goal of becoming Senate majority leader.

        Now Mr. McConnell is helping to advance Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and contributed to an important victory for him Saturday. The state GOP’s executive committee endorsed Mr. Paul’s request, backed by Mr. McConnell, to establish a presidential caucus, despite concerns about financial and political costs. This would allow Mr. Paul to circumvent state law that bars him from appearing on the primary ballot both for the White House and re-election to the Senate.”

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/ra…..1425853137

        That’s how things get done.

        That’s how George H. W. Bush went from decrying Reagan’s “voodoo economics” to being his running mate.

        Mr. Paul’s got the political acumen to do what it takes to become the President.

        1. Thankee, Ken.

          Nicely played by Paul. That’s the kind of Machiavellian scheming a President needs to be able to pull off.

          1. +1

            He’s not just a protest candidate like his dad.

            He’s playing for real money!

            1. Nah man. It’s about principle. It’s about taking on the Establishment. It’s about not showering. Only sellouts try to strategize and win.

              Rand Paul is a sellout. He actually wants to make changes. That’s not cool. Living in a basement is cool. Having a garage band is cool. Winning isn’t cool. Losing and being a fringe outcast is cool. The fact is Rand Paul ain’t cool. You’ll never understand what it is all about. Ron Paul/Murray Rothbard2016. Anarchy FTW.

    3. I agree – Paul shows he has the skills to handle the tough questions. He’s great at handling questions that are slanted towards statism, and reframing them from a freedom and limited government point of view. It’s not Senators undermining Obama’s negotiations, it’s the Senate/Congress working with Obama when Obama is unconstitutionally acting like he’s doing it alone, and leading Democrats to think it’s all him.

      Obama, per the Constitution cannot have a treaty with Iran without the advise and consent of the Senate. Nor can Obama change the Iranian sanctions without Congress acting as well.

      It appears a lot of Democrats think the president has ALL the power when negotiating with foreign nations. They are certainly short sighted, as they haven’t asked themselves if a GOP president should have such power. Or they are child like hypocrites who think they can have it both ways.

    4. I’m not impressed at all. Seven other Republicans, all wiser, older heads, did not sign. There were good procedural reasons to hold back. He had plenty of cover, but he elected to kiss butt on Israel and the neocons, that’s all this letter is about. Why, so they will choose him over a dozen others better to their liking? Strengthen Obama’s hand – give me a break, that’s pathetic. Look a little farther down the road, Rand; how are you ever going to win anti-war Dems if you are the nominee, with a history like this?

      1. He will win the pro-cannabis Dems.

  6. Rand Paul and the others who signed the letter are giving a competent negotiator a wonderful tool, the old “I’ve got to check with my boss” thing. They’re trying to set up a whipsaw for Obama to use.

    But the idiots in the White House and at State apparently have no clue how to negotiate. Probably being within 10 miles of the morons who run the Republican party strips all negotiation skill from your brain.

  7. The Senate has an ‘advise and consent‘ function wrt treaties and foreign affairs – there’s no ‘advise and dissent‘ clause in the Constitution. That’s why the left remained silent when Bush decided that his foreign policy would include invading Iraq. I’m sure there were one or two who wanted to speak out, but they knew the President has absolute authority over conducting foreign affairs and openly opposing him would be tantamount to treason.

    1. That’s complete horseshit.

      Barack Obama has showing/is showing open contempt for the Senate’s advice and consent enumerated power, too.

      “WASHINGTON ? The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.

      In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08……html?_r=0

      “That’s why the left remained silent when Bush decided that his foreign policy would include invading Iraq….They knew the President has absolute authority over conducting foreign affairs and openly opposing him would be tantamount to treason.”

      If anything, the left’s rolling over for the President during the War on Iraq, especially, was treasonous. They stood by and rubber-stamped every disgraceful, stupid, and unconstitutional thing George W. Bush wanted to do. During the War on Terror, the Democrats were certainly traitors to the Constitution.

      1. Your sarcasm meter is broken.

        1. Are you familiar with Poe’s Law?

          “Poe’s law, named after its author Nathan Poe,[1] is a literary adage which stipulates that without a clear indicator of an author’s intended sarcasm it becomes impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.[2]”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe‘s_law

      2. Treason has a specific definition and what you guys are talking about ain’t it.
        Article 3, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
        Violating the Constitution isn’t treason, nor is staying silent when the Pres. wants to send troops, wherever. Now, speaking out against it might, loosely come under the guise of “providing aid and comfort” to the enemy but that is why past accusations of treason have relied on war being declared – by Congress – such as when Hanoi Jane sat on a VC anti-aircraft gun for a propaganda photo-op and not being considered, legally, an act of treason.

        1. “If anything, the left’s rolling over for the President during the War on Iraq, especially, was treasonous. They stood by and rubber-stamped every disgraceful, stupid, and unconstitutional thing George W. Bush wanted to do. During the War on Terror, the Democrats were certainly traitors to the Constitution.

          I used it descriptively, and it certainly is descriptive.

          “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…..ted_States

          Any President who takes that oath and then turns around and treats the Constitution like toilet paper–as both Bush the Lesser and Obama did–has betrayed that oath and the Constitution.

          Do you have a technical definition of “betray”, too?

          Incidentally, I can’t think of a better way to judge how good of a job any particular President did than judging them based on how well they upheld their oath. And Bush and Obama both deserve to be ranked somewhere in the basement on that count.

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    1. And I hear you don’t need much of a wardrobe to fill that job!!!

  9. “But even if negotiations are a positive step, speaking out against them is certainly not “treason,” not even for elected officials.”
    Who, exactly “spoke out against” negotiations?
    The letter simply made clear that Oblama was not being truthful when he said that he could come to an agreement without Congress’s approval. He had said it, here, so it was a good bet he had said it to the Iranians, too. The record needed to be set straight.
    Oblama, as far-fetched as it may seem, could come through with an agreement that was agreeable to two thirds of the Senate, and, therefore become a ratified treaty, and the letter did not preclude that from happening, at all.

  10. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do

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