Republicans are admitting anonymously that the Senate GOP attempt to sabotage President Obama with a letter to Iran has turned into a disaster.
Politico talked to insiders within both parties about the letter, and some Republicans are realizing that they are in trouble:
One-third of Republican insiders believe that Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and his GOP colleagues — including several potential presidential candidates — crossed the line when they published an open letter to Iranian leaders warning about a possible nuclear deal.
“The GOP letter — while sound in substance — caused the debate to shift from the administration’s wrongheadedness to the GOP’s tactics,” said a New Hampshire Republican, who — like all 92 respondents this week — completed the survey anonymously in order to speak candidly. “That’s not helpful.”
“Policy wise, the deal Obama is trying to cut is a bad one,” said another. “Politically speaking, however, the letter has been a disaster. The Democrats have totally framed and owned the debate, and our GOP senators are getting pummeled.”
The letter has turned into an unrelenting disaster of a story that is following Republicans wherever they go. Republican presidential candidates are being asked about it on the campaign trail. Republicans who didn’t have anything to do with the letter are being questioned about it. There is no escape for Republicans.
Sen. Tom Cotton’s letter created an issue where one didn’t exist. It is a self-inflicted wound that is not healing. There is nothing that Republicans can say that will explain or excuse the letter. The excuse making has been so feeble that John McCain tried to blame the weather for his decision to sign the letter.
The Republican opposition to any deal with Iran will now look partisan and petty. Republicans also shot themselves in the feet with Democrats by sending this letter. Senate Republicans were building a bipartisan consensus for passage of legislation that would have required any agreement to be reviewed and approved by the Senate, but that’s gone.
The level of disrespect in the letter has shocked people who don’t follow politics on a daily basis, but who vote in a presidential election. The behavior of the Senate Republicans can’t be undone. There is no way to repair the damage, and Republicans might have cost themselves their Senate majority with this blatant act of sabotage.