As the backlash against Republicans continue in response to that appalling open letter they addressed to the leaders of Iran, GOP partisans are scrambling for a rationalization. Enter Deroy Murdock, offering up some quite absurd and irrelevant pedantry at the National Review. He tries to get them off on a technicality:
Before U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and 46 of his GOP colleagues are frog-marched to the gallows and hanged for treason, one vital point of confusion must be cleared up. Say what you will about the Republicans’ open letter “to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Cotton/GOP letter regarding Tehran’s atom-bomb talks with Obama was not sent to the ayatollahs. Had Cotton & Co. actually delivered their communiqué to Iran’s mullahs — perhaps via a Swiss diplomatic pouch or something even more cloak and dagger — their critics would be on less swampy ground in calling them “traitors,” as the New York Daily News screamed.
Either through befuddlement or deceit, many of the Republicans’ detractors have echoed this gross inaccuracy.
Accusations of treason are ridiculous, as I’ve pointed out more than once. The letter was stupid, a violation of at least the spirit of the Logan Act and of the separation of powers doctrine, but it wasn’t treason. But to excuse it away because it was issued as an open letter rather than being physically sent is about equal parts pedantry and sophistry. The letter was addressed to the leaders of Iran. It was read by the people to whom it was addressed and they responded to the communication (by mocking the Republicans, and rightly so). Only someone utterly blinded by partisanship would attempt such weaselry (is that a word? It is now).
You know who agrees with me? Tom Cotton himself, who sent out a tweet announcing the letter that said:
Today, 47 GOP Senators sent a letter to Iranian leaders about Congress’ role in nuclear negotiations.
So it seems that Sen. Cotton himself has committed what Murdock farcically calls a “gross inaccuracy.”