The Party of Palpatine
A while back I observed the contrast between the modern leftists' self-image and the actual political reality of the policies they support.
[T]he media and Hollywood types have always convinced themselves, as George Lucas did, that their villains were metaphors for George W. Bush or a cautionary tale about the evils of the right. But here we are, the Old Republic is being dissolved, and it’s their hero who is doing it. They find themselves on the side of the Empire.
In effect, they have become the Party of Palpatine. You never thought that a fictional dictator, such as the emperor from the Star Wars franchise, could gain and hold power all on his own, did you? He would need the support of ambitious bureaucrats, he would need slavish hacks running interference for him in the press—an army of Lois Lerners and David Brocks, respectively—and he would need a political party that rationalizes ever-expanding, unilateral executive power. The Democrats have become such a party.
We got another big reminder of this over the past week, when Democrats basically decided that Palpatine was right to dissolve the Senate, because those squabbling legislators just get in the way of the emperor's wise plans.
Hence the hysterical overreaction to an open letter signed by 47 Republican senators, led by Tom Cotton, warning Iran that the deal President Obama is negotiating with them will have no legal force because Obama hasn't bothered to consult with the Senate or seek its approval for any part of it.
For this, the Senators were labeled as "traitors" and accused of "sabotaging" the president's policies.
And to refute the senators' claims, the administration—well, the administration totally validated them. CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller reported:
WH says if nuke deal is reached with Iran it won't be a treaty subject to Senate ratification.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 9, 2015
But Secretary of State John Kerry went a step further to declare that the agreement would be exempt from any modification by Congress:
"When [the letter] says that Congress could actually modify the terms of an agreement at any time [it] is flat wrong," Kerry, who has been negotiating a deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "You don't have the right to modify an agreement reached executive to executive between leaders of a country."
Which kind of makes the Cotton letter's point even more relevant, don't you think?
As to the immediate practical effect of the letter, I don't think it will make much difference one way or another, nor do I expect its signers believed it would. They know that President Obama is bound and determined to pursue a deal with Iran. From the time he has taken office, he has made it clear that he thinks America has all the wrong allies, so he has worked to downgrade our existing allies, such as Britain, Poland, and Israel, and replace them with new allies, such as Russia, Cuba, and Iran. The first of those hasn't worked out, but this has not dimmed his ardor for the others. So Obama's reaction to the Senate letter was predictable: he's pursuing his deal no matter what.
Iran, for its part, is also going through with some kind of deal, and this letter is not going to affect its decision-making. For Iran, nuclear negotiations have always been about playing for time, putting off Western action or reducing its severity while they beaver away at their nuclear weapons program as much as they can in secret. So it doesn't really matter to them if they're only buying 22 months of Western paralysis. In 2017, they'll gladly reset the whole thing, start the negotiations over again (from their usual beginning: negotiations about whether to have negotiations), and run down the clock again for a few more years.
So what this letter is really doing is setting down a political marker, partly for domestic political purpose—but above all else, it is reminding this administration that Congress exists.
And that's what is turning the Democrats into the Party of Palpatine. It is not so much that they actually believe in expanding the power of the executive or in making Congress irrelevant. It's that they believe in seeking maximum power for themselves and their agenda, in whatever way serves their interests at the moment, regardless of principles. They oppose the power of the legislature because their people don't control it, and they aggrandize the powers of the executive because their people do control it. They're willing to knock the Constitutional separation of powers flat for the sake of pursuing the political gains of the moment. They're the Party of Palpatine because they're the party of power.
All of which is reminder of how much more we would like the Democrats if they didn't have any power. The voters should re-assign the Democrats to channel their ambitions into something useful, like defending the prerogatives of a small congressional minority.