by Bob Wheeler

This is a copy of an open letter that I sent to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) regarding the letter to the Iranian government that he signed.

Hon. Pat Toomey

Dear sir,
I cannot tell you how shocked and disappointed I am at the action taken by you and a number of your Senate colleagues in writing an open letter to the leaders of Iran. Your action, sir, is treasonous in principle if not in the letter of the law. You have communicated with a hostile foreign power in a deliberate attempt to undermine the attempts of our government to reach a negotiated settlement over our outstanding differences. You have embarrassed our government and made eventual war a much more likely possibility.
Partisanship, sir, is supposed to stop at the water’s edge. While it is true that the Constitution gives the President power “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” to make treaties, that does not give individual senators the right to undermine the President’s efforts to conduct negotiations. As John Jay pointed out in The Federalist no. 64, that in the negotiation of treaties, “perfect secrecy and immediate dispatch are sometimes requisite . . . The Convention have done well, therefore, in so disposing of the power of making treaties that although the President must, in forming them, act by the advice and consent of the Senate, yet he will be able to manage the business of intelligence in such manner as prudence may suggest.”
Moreover, your action in sending the letter was perfectly senseless. What exactly did you hope to accomplish by sending it? Consider the possibilities. If sanctions work, Iran will come to the negotiating table and discuss the matter. If they do not work, Iran will continue with its nuclear program, with the strong likelihood that they will eventually acquire the bomb. The only way to prevent will be war. Iran is now at the negotiating table, and yet that does not satisfy you. Is your preference for war? Are you willing to sacrifice the lives and treasure necessary to prevail in such a conflict? Are you willing to raise taxes to finance it?
But in some ways the broader implications of your action are even more disturbing. The foundations of American democracy are being eroded. Here both sides must take the blame. Whether by the President issuing executive orders or by congressional Republicans employing obstructionist tactics to advance their own agenda, political outcomes are being determined more by coercion than civilized discussion and debate. This, sir, is the stuff of fascism, not American democracy. Can our republican institutions long survive in such a climate?
I could have hoped for more from a senator who professes to be a conservative who respects our nation’s cherished traditions. I can only hope that the people will take alarm at the threat to their liberties and remove from office the politicians who will not respect the political process.