SO MUCH FOR ‘WATER’S EDGE’….. I remember a time — I believe it’s known as “2001 through 2008” — when congressional Republicans believed politics had to end at the water’s edge. They also believed that the United States couldn’t have individual members of Congress coming up with their own foreign policies — these responsibilities were in the hands of the president.
Ah, the good old days.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) has spent the last few days advocating in support of a resolution, weighing in on developments in Iran. Pence has said he realizes where President Obama has “drawn the line,” but he “respectfully disagrees” with the administration. Pence added that the U.S. can’t “stay neutral,” so his resolution is necessary to “condemn the violence.”
In our reality, Obama has already expressed “deep concerns about the election,” and publicly shared his concerns about “violence directed at peaceful protesters,” but maybe Pence wasn’t paying attention. Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he wants to intervene in such a way as to undermine U.S. foreign policy, just to see what happens.
After watching Pence grandstand on (where else?) Fox News this morning, Tom Ricks expressed concern that Iranians might not realize why it’s important to ignore Mike Pence.
I just hope that Iranian protestors know not to take this clown seriously.
This problem goes to the essence of strategy: A “tough” stance that Fox’s anchors are pushing might feel good, but it likely would be unproductive. A sober stance of the sort that Obama has taken is more difficult but likely more effective in the long run.
I was cautiously optimistic that Republicans would realize this, especially after Obama’s approach was endorsed by prominent conservatives who focus on foreign policy (Lugar, Kissinger, Sick, et al). Alas, a few too many GOP leaders have other ideas.
Watching this unfold, I am reminded of something Matt Yglesias wrote earlier this year: “The larger issue … is that Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt…. I would refer you to this post from September about the earth-shattering ignorance and stupidity of Mike Pence…. [I]t’s really staggering. In my admittedly brief experience talking to him, his inability to grasp the basic contours of policy question was obvious and overwhelming.”
Update: The administration apparently worked with House Dems “to moderate [the] fire-breathing resolution circulated by Republicans to rebuke Iran for its post-election crackdown on dissent.” After changes were made, the White House said it was fine with the resolution, and the measure passed this afternoon, 405 to 1.