Fred Kaplan in Slate:
It is a useful thing when a political party reveals itself as utterly unsuited for national leadership. This may be the one redeeming feature of Monday’s letter to the Iranian government signed by 47 (or, to put it another way, all but seven) Senate Republicans. The letter—which encourages Iran’s leaders to dismiss the ongoing nuclear talks with the United States and five other nations—is as brazen, gratuitous, and plainly stupid an act as any committed by the Senate in recent times, and that says a lot. It may also be illegal.
The banalities begin with the greeting: “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” By custom, a serious letter to foreign leaders would address them by name. Who is it that the senators are seeking to influence: the supreme leader, the Parliament, the Revolutionary Guards? Clearly none of the above, otherwise it wouldn’t be an open letter. Nor, if this were a serious attempt of some sort, would Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who was among the missive’s signatories) leave the task of organizing it to the likes of Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, an otherwise unknown freshman. As usual, the Republicans’ goal is simple: to embarrass and undermine President Barack Obama. The idiocies begin with the first sentence: “It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.” First, I’m curious: How has this come to their attention? Second, the letter writers reveal that they don’t understand our constitutional system either.