The Corner

The Pathetic, Hollowed-Out Legislative Body That Used to Be the United States Senate

Jim, after reading Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Lindsay Graham, it is simply stunning that our nation has moved from Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:

[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur . . .

To this utter nonsense:

HH: Senator Graham, do you expect they will filibuster it, though, because forty-one votes–

LG: No.

HH: You don’t?

LG: Let me tell you, if they filibuster and deny the American people a chance to hear a debate on the most important foreign decision in my lifetime, I think it’d be the mistake for the ages. I do not believe – I cannot bring myself to believe – that we would be denied as the United States Senate a chance to dictate why we’re for or against the most consequential foreign policy decision in this generation.

HH: Have any of your colleagues on the Democratic side – any of them – said to you, “You know, Lindsey, I’m going to vote for this deal, but I will let that debate go forward.”

LG: We have fifty-eight – we have four Democrats. We’re two short of getting to sixty. It is my hope, Hugh – now I know the body fairly well – there will be at least two Democrats who will say this deal is important, it’s worthy of being debated. The American people deserve to hear both sides of the argument. I will vote for the deal, but I will stop it from coming up for a debate. I am hopeful that at least two Democrats will fall in that column.

HH: Well, if that happens, do you believe there is an opportunity to change minds?

LG: I don’t know if we can change minds, but we’ll have a historical record, and we’ll have something to build upon going forward as to why it’s a bad deal. Maybe you could change a mind or two. I don’t know, but I know it’s important to have the discussion if you truly believe it’s a good deal. You should welcome the opportunity to explain why.

Senate leadership is making Neville Chamberlain look like Leonidas at Thermopylae. A jihadist enemy is on the verge of not just obtaining access to a massive economic stimulus and international arms markets, but also continuing a nuclear program under an unverifiable, unenforceable, unpopular agreement opposed by a bipartisan majority, and Senate leaders can’t even guarantee that we’ll have an actual debate? You’ve got to hand it to President Obama. He’s such an adept political operator that he persuaded the Senate to (1) abdicate its constitutional authority; (2) pass a law that allows a treaty to go forward even in the face of supermajority disapproval; and (3) celebrate the capitulation as some sort of achievement because it might — might — help fully develop the “historical record.”

But Obama’s not content with merely running through the Republican defensive line, stiff-arming the secondary, and scoring a touchdown to the thunderous applause of the hard Left. No, he’s got to spike the football by — as Andy McCarthy has explained – not even submitting the entire agreement to Congress. In other words, he’ll violate the Corker Bill, but the Senate — as of now — is essentially waiving his violation and voting on the bill anyway. Powerline’s Scott Johnson rightly calls this “surrender . . . then play-fight.”

I’m reminded of Thomas Paine’s immortal words:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

I would describe this capitulation as the work of “summer soldiers,” but that would insult summer soldiers. Risking not their lives – but only their political futures — the Senate must do all it can to avoid rewarding a regime that has killed Americans, is killing Americans, and that threatens a nuclear holocaust. But the filibuster is more important than national security, and the vow “never again” carries with it two implicit conditions — so long as sixty senators agree, and enforcing the promise won’t cause too much blowback in the next election cycle. What a sad and shameful spectacle.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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