Another one of the 47 Senators who signed the Iran letter has come forward to say that he did it to support Obama, not undermine him. Rand Paul of Kentucky is saying that he signed it because he wanted to strengthen Obama’s position with Iran and give him more leverage. That’s very reminiscent of what Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said just a few days ago.
The Huffington Post reports that Paul was at SXSW in Texas, where he said:
There’s no one in Washington more against war and more for a negotiated deal than I am. But I want the negotiated deal to be a good deal. So my reason for signing onto the letter, I think it reiterates what is the actual law, that Congress will have to undo sanctions. But I also signed onto the letter because I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength, which means that he needs to be telling them in Iran that ‘I’ve got Congress to deal with.’
He also feels that Obama needs to respect the position that he feels Congress should have in any deal made. He said that he would have gone to Congress to work something out, instead of stiff-arming them the way he believes Obama has done. He wants Obama to engage Congress, member by member, on this issue.
We have to ask whether this is going to be the GOP’s new line about that letter. “We were just helping, we swear!” Paul seriously sounds like Portman, who said:
This notion that the 47 Republicans who signed the letter want to blow up the agreement is simply incorrect. In fact, it’s just the opposite for me. I want an agreement that will stand the test of time, and that’s what we’re working for.
The agreement that we get with Iran depends heavily on how things work out with the other countries involved. Lest the Republicans forget (or perhaps they never knew), we’re not the only country working with Iran to slow down their nuclear research. There are five other countries at the table.
The 47 Senators who signed the Iran letter have taken a massive beating it. A petition garnering more than 200,000 signatures called for charging them with treason, and they’ve been called traitors all over social media and in op-eds and other news. Obama himself said he was embarrassed for them. Thus far, the only response they’ve really been able to come up with is that it was perfectly legal, they needed to reclaim their status in this situation, that the Logan Act is a joke, and Obama made them do it anyway.
We should probably expect to hear more of those 47 Senators say that they were only trying to help out. They need a way to salvage their image that doesn’t include saying, “It was perfectly legal, so we’re not wrong! It’s all Obama’s fault!”