“Tehran Tom” Cotton’s Iran Blunder Has Made Him the New Hanoi Jane

tom cotton morning joe

On Monday, Sen. Tom Cotton, freshman Republican senator from Arkansas, issued his by now infamous letter to Iran, signed by 47 Republican senators. We cannot know what sort of reaction these people expected, but we can predict with some certainty that it was issued with a sense of triumph and jubilation. Instead, as Politico put it yesterday, the blowback startled them.

Republicans were probably beginning to worry by Tuesday that Cotton’s Iran letter was backfiring. That was the day the New York Daily News called them traitors. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already schooled (i.e. mocked) them not only on international law on Monday, but United States constitutional law, providing the public humiliation before the entire world they so much deserved.

This morning, the verdict seems to be in on Tom Cotton’s letter, with 22 newspaper editorials having joined all the other voices of condemnation raised against the blatant attempt to undermine the president.

While clueless, hate-consumed Republican presidential hopefuls compound their poor judgment by scrambling to support the seditious Iran letter, the Senate historian can’t find anything in history that matches it. I don’t even think Caesar’s enemies wrote Cleopatra letters warning her his word was meaningless.

As Jason Easley wrote here yesterday,

It is not an understatement to suggest that the outrage over the Senate Republican letter is national. In this time of great partisan divide, Republicans managed to unify the country with an act that was as blatantly unpatriotic as it was blindingly stupid.

Yet Iran specialist Suzanne Maloney took a very different view at Brookings on Tuesday writing that,

Despite the smug Twitter takedowns, Cotton is no fool; he is an Iraq war veteran with two Harvard degrees and has been called “the future of the GOP” and “Ted Cruz with a war record, Sarah Palin with a Harvard degree, Chris Christie with a Southern accent — a force to be reckoned with.” He has cemented his rising reputation around warning against the threat from Iran; he is apparently a true believer in the latest cockamamie conspiracy theory to sweep the right wing, now that Benghazi and birth certificates are passé — the illusion that there is “an unspoken entente between the Obama administration and Iran: the U.S. won’t impose new sanctions on Iran and will allow it to develop threshold nuclear capabilities, while Iran won’t assemble a bomb till 2017.”

I’m not certain we’ve seen anything to suggest Cotton is no fool. Rather to the contrary, and at this point, the burden of proof is on Cotton and his defenders. Here is how Maloney parses his actions:

The feedback loop between Cotton’s letter and Khamenei’s innate mistrust is brilliantly calculated. As Cotton said earlier this year, “The end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much an intended consequence.” In December, he promised that Congress would “put an end to these negotiations,” adding that “I think the adults in Congress need to step in early in the new year. And those are people in both parties.”

So Cotton’s letter writing is a direct result of his ideological opposition to a peace accord with Iran, and, one would have to assume, a preference for war. But that he said it and then did it, doesn’t mean it was a good idea to begin with. Again, there is nothing here to suggest Cotton is not as big a fool as we by now all imagine him to be, and indeed, as his actions seem to prove.

Maloney writes that because it will be more difficult once sanctions have been lifted to prevent them from becoming permanent, Republicans were driven by a sense of urgency to send this “seemingly reckless letter” and that “they appreciate that it would be far easier, and far more advantageous in terms of their own public positioning, for Congress to sabotage negotiations than it would be to upend a done deal.”

Her conclusion is that,

Ultimately, the loss of the good opinion of a few Democrats is a small price to pay if the letter hits its real target. The most reliable opponent of a nuclear deal resides in Tehran, and it is entirely possible that the Republican letter has reinforced his aversion to compromise. Washington’s pundits may jeer, but I worry that Senator Cotton & co. may yet have the last laugh.

The loss of the good opinion of a “few Democrats” is the least of the things these Republicans have lost, as we have seen. Indeed, things became so bad for “Tehran Tom” that on Wednesday, the Christian Science Monitor was asking, “Is he the next ‘Hanoi Jane’?”

Jane Fonda in North Vietnam in 1972

Maloney no doubt wrote this analysis on Monday, before pretty much everybody who isn’t a Republican reacted with outrage. It certainly does not seem now that their strategy succeeded in derailing the peace process. Instead, this letter is proven to have been as reckless as it seems, like Jane Fonda’s trip to North Vietnam in 1972, an attempt that should never have been made.

What ought to have happened is that Cotton and his colleagues got together and said, “About the only thing left is publishing an open letter to Iran to sabotage this thing, but that would be just stupid.” This utterance would then be followed by sad shakes of the head, and the rest of us would never know about it until some memoir was published a half century from now. And then, because it was such a stupid idea, nobody would believe it.

The CSM is correct in pointing out that “politicians aren’t known for deciding and declaring they were wrong or even simply imprudent about anything,” and this is doubly true of Republicans.

So don’t expect any apologies: even if John McCain, one of the signatories, admitted Tuesday night that the letter might not have been the most “effective” response to the peace negotiations, Tehran Tom was saying Wednesday that he has “no regrets,” and that his treasonous letter actually “protects” America.

We cannot expect Cotton to one day share Fonda’s moment of clarity, but no apology is going to save the Republicans from themselves, or from President Obama. As the saying goes, stupidity is its own reward, and Republican Senator Tom Cotton has certainly proven the truth of that anonymous proverb.

When combined with the Netanyahu fiasco, which has led to Bibi’s popularity crashing both here and in Israel, we have plentiful evidence that we should be thankful it is not Republicans controlling our foreign policy, but the very sober, steady hand of President Barack Obama.

80 Replies to ““Tehran Tom” Cotton’s Iran Blunder Has Made Him the New Hanoi Jane”

  1. I cannot go along with the idea that he is something of a genius, with his (approx) 2 years of military service and his degrees, I think it is a load of bull***t.
    What senator with half a brain would tell a constituent not to sign up for Obamacare because a russian mobster would be able to steal her information?
    Cotton is certainly another Ted Cruz, they are both frauds who have a very high opinion of themselves.

  2. Even worse though, Rand Paul said in a hearing this week that the true target of the letter was President Obama. To actually think that sending the letter to Iran was the best way to send their message to Obama is juvenile and ignorant.

    If anyone thinks that this act has made America stronger than they are a bigger fool than these fools that wrote and sent the letter!

  3. Tom Cotton: An upstart whore for the Koch Brothers and the Military-Industrial Complex who wants to be their highest paid prostitute.

    Just another Ivy League reactionary.

  4. Lt. Col. Joni Ernst broke the law by signing the seditious letter to Iran.
    Lt. Col. Joni Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa, is an active duty lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. As such, she is bound by the Iowa State Code of Military Justice. Her signing of the seditious letter to Iran is a clear and direct violation of Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.

    Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

  5. The 47 who signed this letter just let the entire world know that they will do anything to undermine the sitting President. ANYTHING. The rest of the world finds this act contemptible. Will John McCain EVER admit that the better man won the election, or will he keep his childish actions going? He should retire, long overdue, and take some of his fellow gop members with him. Their time has come and gone.

  6. I would settle for the Iowa National Guard to court martial her. Having said that, I still believe that the #47traitors and Boehner need to be indicted for their clear, in my humble opinion, violation of the Logan Act.

  7. It’s Obvious this clown has no business being in his position but I’m not hearing a lot, if anything about Mitch McConnell. I mean really? After years and years of being a Senator and The Majority Leader, he didn’t know this was wrong and even signed this abomination? McConnell isn’t a leader and has no control of The Senate. I hold him responsible for this and he should be taking major heat for this act of treason. It might not be practical to arrest 47 members of the Senate but I believe that the leader’s of Congress Boehner and Senate McConnell should be arrested as an example to all~

  8. So, Lt. Col Joni Ernst could be court-martialed? Love to see that/BUT will it happen, I doubt it.

    On the last line of Haraldssons post. “we should be thankful the republican’s (I hate to write that name, usually use rethugs). are not in control of our Foreign Policy.” Truer words have never been spoken.
    Think of the war (wars) they have planned. I believe it was Bush who once said. “Perpetual wars” were in our future. He let it slip about the rethugs plan!!!war and more war. War after all makes money for the already rich, and creates the lower class. The thugs have never been happy the working class have been able to be educated above high school or 8th grade. Every generation that is educated, gives them less control.So elimination of public ed is on the agenda

  9. Traitor Cotton and the rest of his Benedict Arnold Party needs to resign! Today’s republican party is true disgrace to this country and they and their fascist billionaire backers are TRUE THREAT TO THIS NATION FORGET ISIL

  10. While I appreciate his service in the Armed Forces, it hardly makes him a foreign policy expert. His arrogance has been very annoying. I think Tehran Tom is a great moniker for this self entitled little creep.

    And this quoted Iran expert above, Suzanne Maloney, definitely has egg on her face. While she might have a following in the isolated bubble of D.C., she definitely failed to comprehend how this would go over in the “hinterlands”.

  11. United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation et al.
    Citations 299 U.S. 304 (more)
    299 U.S. 304, 57 S.Ct. 216, 81 L.Ed. 255
    Prior history Judgment sustaining a demurrer to the indictment, 14 F.Supp. 230 (D. D.C. 1932)
    While the Constitution does not explicitly say that all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President, it is nonetheless given implicitly and by the fact that the executive, by its very nature, is empowered to conduct foreign affairs in a way that Congress cannot and should not.

  12. The letter was, plain and simple, Cotton’s bid for a seat in the Repub Primary Clown Car latter this year. Yes, a lot of people are outraged by the letter, but those crazy yokels who wear tricorner hats with tea bags hanging off of them are seeing him as the next big thing. They see this as another case of “sticking it to Obama”.
    After the rise of President Obama, the Senate has become a hot bed of Rethug freshman looking to score the Big Prize during their first term. Cotton, Cruz, Paul, etc. see the Senate as a launching platform. All of their actions right now are centered on firing up the rabid base.

  13. Some are responding with Cotton’s military record. Well Benedict Arnold also had one …

    I see them John Kerry’s Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts from Viet Nam combat. Cotton essentially did what no real military hero would do, he tossed in a grenade while his fellow officer was negotiating a truce.

    I served as a Medic in Nam, and no vet who has seen the damage war can do would risk a peaceable solution over bloodshed. Unless he has buddies in the defense contractor business ….

  14. Let’s not fool ourselves. This Bagger asshole already is running for President in 2024, if not 2016 or 2020, and he just put himself on the Bagger asshole map. Mission accomplished.

  15. I agree with you Joan. Republicans are proving that having a Harvard education doesn’t mean you have good sense. I guess anyone can get in now days.

  16. Mike, the US has our problems, but we shall never elect a crank as POTUS who said ISIS and Mexican cartels were preparing to attack Arkansas.

  17. The Brookings Institute has this meme . .

    “provide innovative and practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthen American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous, and cooperative international system”

    It appears that Ms Baloney has ignored all three by aligning herself with the America Hating rethugs. Her post was a lengthy diatribe against the way we handle ourselves in the business of this Nation. Of course the RWNJs have no interest in the betterment of society, just putting themselves in the line to achieve some money from the bagger-rich.

  18. Cotton also thought the Iraq invasion was right, and necessary.

    ‘Nuff said?

    I think this letter weakens the GOP’s chances of actually torpedoing the agreement, since Iranians also can see how much blowback the seditious 47 got for their efforts, in American newspapers.

    Who now will take them seriously, on ANY legislative proposal? “The Letter” showed them to be fundamentally hyperbolic and unserious, and even political toadies like Jeff Flake can see the damage to their agenda it has caused. They shot from the hip, and hit themselves in the ass.

  19. “I think Tehran Tom is a great moniker for this self entitled little creep.”

    How about, “Traitorous Tehran Tom”?

    Self entitled? Yep, and add a big heaping dose of the Self-righteousness of the end-times dominionist true believers (search: david lane, republican governors, rnc israel trip.)

    Little creep? Creepy, yes…but let’s not diminish the seriousness of the power these folks are pursuing. President Walker & a republican congress? Good thing that could never happen, eh?

  20. I was dumbfounded by McConnell’s stupidity. Even the Courier-journal, his hometown newspaper headlined the editorial page “Senate Saboteurs”. He may be a crooked Kentucky politician, but he generally is smarter than this. He may have doomed his majority in the 2016 cycle.

  21. Hmmm….as if the President cannot see, nor even forecast, what the GOTP idiots are doing! I dare say Obama is saying ” Hey, we don’t even need to give them the shovels, they’re digging their own holes, into which they are slowly tumbling”.

    Those who refuse to look outside their own borders, except as an excuse to start wars, shouldn’t be anywhere near Washington DC, let alone diagnosing foreign policy. And that also goes for those who don’t understand their own Constitution!

  22. To Robert Squires – you are 100% correct, my husband was also a medic in VietNam, he
    also thinks these idiots who think war is
    a walk in the park, really don’t know war.
    My husband was in Tan An province and drove to Saigon often, he was very used to seeing vehicles ahead of him blown apart and body parts strewn about, his unit was under attck many times and he was decorated for bravery and saving lives, and he does not like war at all.

  23. Having two Harvard degrees does not mean Tom Cotton is not a fool. Not prosecuting this treason means Americans are the real fools.

  24. “Unless he has buddies in the defense contractor business …. ”

    Which is precisely the case. The day after he sent out this letter, he held a meeting with some bigwigs in the MIC.

    He needs to be flayed.

  25. An education does not make one smart nor have common sense. A short military career does not make one a foreign affairs specialist nor a war hero or battlefield General. The stupid are the most likely to feel intellectually superior to those around them. This seems to be the definition of Senator Tom Cotton.

  26. Bu$h got in due to his Father being an Alumni, because there is no way he’d have gotten in on his ‘merits’.

  27. What the new Senator must have known was that he had 46 stupid colleagues. Blame him all you want, no one put a gun to the head of those lemmings.

  28. Tom Cotton led those 46 Senators right over the edge into the abyss of shame and loathing. He thought he would be the next Ted Cruz. Now those 46 Senators are saying: Why the hell did I fall for this fool’s plan. Aaaaargh! Too late Senators, you are all in this mess together now for ever. Shame on all ‘ya’ll. Good. Keep trying to embarrass Obama at your own peril. {{{{ Laughing }}} ;)

  29. The fact that NONE of them are even willing to look embarrassed after this fiasco is telling.

    To me it indicates that every Republican lacks humility.

    The kind of humility necessary to admit you’re wrong, is the kind of humility that helps avoid the loss of lives.
    The kind of humility lacking before the Unnecessary War in Iraq.

  30. A little different from his earlier excuse that it “looked reasonable.” Glad he didn’t win in 2008 – he’d have declared war on somebody because he was in a hurry

  31. Thanks for that info, D. Interesting that this has not appeared yet in the Des Moines Register, but I intend to email several of their people tonite (can’t do it at work). I will also email the Guard. As a disappointed Iowan, I’d do almost anything to get that bitch off her high horse. Already emailed her & Grasshole to rip them new ones, like it would do any good..

  32. “So Cotton’s letter writing is a direct result of his ideological opposition to a peace accord with Iran, and, one would have to assume, a preference for war.”

    You give Cotton far too much credit. He’s bought and paid for by the Military Industrial Complex and the lobbyists for Israel.

    Not only has he and his fellow traitors violated the Logan Act, but he may also be in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.


  33. Federal Election Campaign Law: § 441e. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals (a) Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for— (1) a foreign national, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, to make— (A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election; (B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or (C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 304(f)(3)) (2 U.S.C. § 434(f)(3)); or (2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

  34. All of them should be tried for sedition
    The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the United States Congress in 1798 and signed into law by President John Adams, ostensibly designed to protect the United States from citizens of enemy powers during the turmoil following the French Revolution and to stop seditious factions from weakening the government of the new republic.

  35. Follow the $$$. Who is backing this senator? Yes you got it right all the corporations that stand to profit in war. They DGAF about the people they were elected to serve just their pockets. You should know by now silly rabbits FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  36. Did he even show up for class. He was also in the National Guards but nobody remembered him. You know that if your daddy has enough money and influence a degree can be yours and you never half to step foot in the school.

  37. The repubs attitude towards sending others to fight their wars remind me of Zapp Brannigan from Futurama: “I will send wave after wave of men to die for you.”

  38. Joni Ernst is an embarrassment to Iowa. Being from Iowa between her and Steve King, it makes all Iowans look like idiots. Actually we’re not. But when the offices are bought for you, why not take them? Their thoughts, not mine.

  39. “Tehran Tom”, I like that. Never heard of him before this but it’s good to know whose payroll he’s on for future reference.

  40. You people are all seriously deranged, negotiating with a terrorist supporting nation who’s ill intent is blatant and obvious “death to America’ and “death to Israel”…aiding and abetting an enemy of God of the most vicious and venemous nature, siding with a “religion” that is straight out of hell starring Lucifer himself. God help you all escape your eternal damnation!

  41. Dumbass they worship the same god as you do. And Please tell us idiot when has Iran murdered Americans? I can tell you when Israelis did. But being the product of incest and homeschooled you don’t know about the USS Liberty

  42. Tom Cotton’s war on reality: The GOP will recognize no limits

    The extreme right will risk global conflict to preserve the fading dream of America’s eternal hegemony

    When a constituency of any kind is willing to put war and peace on the table to advance an agenda in the service of narrow interests, you are advised that it recognizes no limits. This is the subtext of the GOP’s screed, ridiculous and frightening all at once. Read it here. It is a classic case of the syndrome John Mearsheimer identified in “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics,” his 2001 book. When emerging powers challenge great powers, desperation arises.

  43. The purpose of the letter was to sink the negotiations. I think it was calculated to do exactly what is happening now, create lots of noise. If Iran walks away from the table, then the letter and the 47 idiots will have won because that is what they set out to do, destroy any deal with Iran!!
    Whatever the GOP can do to cut President Obama off at the knees they are going to do. Cotton is the new Cruz, and between both of them, they can bottle up and destroy any legislation that even hints at helping this Nation. This letter is the tip of an iceberg that is going to do more damage to this country than ISIS will ever do.

  44. Saudi Arabia – the Good People who brought US 9/11 and ISIS – has quietly signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, according to The Wall Street Journal, reigniting fears that failure of U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran might drive a Middle East nuclear arms race.

    THANKS Senator Cotton

  45. If Iran says it wants to pursue non-polluting, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, I’m surprised that no one has suggested they pursue Solar and Wind energy instead.

    There would be no way for them to make a bomb out of that… which should be a concept the Repugs could get behind, if it wasn’t for the Koch’s money.

    And, if Iran didn’t pursue Solar/Wind, it would be proof that they had other, bad, intentions for their nuclear pursuits.

    Then, we would know.

  46. Wow, Texas patriot! You must be exhausted entertaining all that hate. You worship a god that is totally alien to me. My God is a God of love and compassion. He did not tell me to destroy every thing that was different. And I do believe that Islam, Christianity, and the Jewish religion all came from the same man, Abraham…..when MAN gets his hands on any belief, he distorts it and interprets it to become what he wants it to be. Therein lies the problem. Follow the holy book of any of the three major beliefs and you would find none of the things you ranted about.

  47. Two things:

    Sen. Cotton is opposed to compromise? If so, he needs to remain in his own bubble,not in Congress “representing” constituents – along with the other nonbelievers. Undoubtedly he is unfamiliar with and has no knowledge that the Framers of our Constitution, compromised. Without compromise the Constitution would never have been agreed to and accomplished.

    I sent Sen. Cotton an email in which I stated that the letter was “stupid” and the signers were ignoramuses to sign it.

    I also telephoned my GOP senator to commend her on her wisdom to not sign the letter. I insisted it was important that my comment be passed on to her, because I have criticized her votes in the past.

  48. Maybe Cotton should go back to Harvard and take a refresher course on American government that includes reading the Federalist Papers.

    In Federalist Paper 73, Hamilton warned of just such actions that the Iran latter succeeds in doing. He wrote: “the legislature will not be infallible; that the love of power may sometimes betray it into a disposition to encroach upon the rights of other members of the government; that a spirit of faction may sometimes pervert its deliberations; that impressions of the moment may sometimes hurry it into measures which itself, on maturer reflexion, would condemn.”

    It is inexcusable that any member of the Senate would sign such a document. There is no constitutional nor rational reason that any member of the Senate can give other than they have arrogated unto themselves a belief that they and their political philosophy endows them with the doctrine of infallibility and that they can encroach upon the rights of other members of the government.

  49. You call yourself a Texas patriot. I didn’t know such creature was possible.. Aren’t you one of the States that belong to the seditionist part of the country? So tell me how you are a patriot?

  50. I guess Texas Patriot’s “Jesus” would simply determine that all Iranians are evil and worthy of being murdered and rather than use diplomacy to secure a non-proliferation agreement, would just send other people’s kids to fight and die as his first, and only course of action.

    Republican Jesus FTW!

    Texas, I suspect WE’RE not the ones who should be worrying about eternal damnation…

  51. I fear that the United States has entered it’s mortal decline. The Golden Age of America was from the end of WWII to the last day of the Clinton administration. No one group has done more to destroy this country than the Supreme Court in league with the Kock brothers and aided and abetted by Rupert Murdock.

    Only a revolution can turn this decline around. We are due for an American spring where we overthrow the five Injustices of the Supreme Court and the cult of greed and power, the Republican Party.

  52. When ignorant folk want to advertise their ignorance you don’t have to do anything, you just let them talk.
    Pres. Obama

  53. And the new Tricky Dickie. President Johnson had a deal in place to end the Vietnam war when Nixon told the Vietnamese leaders he’d have a better deal for them. The blood of over 30,000 more US soldier deaths were all because of Nixon. Humphey would have won easily if the war ended. Nixon’s calls to the leaders are well documented.

  54. Texas “Patriot”, No one is “aiding and abetting” Iran. Are you aware the United States is not the only country negotiating with Iran? This is not just some idea of President Obama’s. The other countries involved in the negotiations with Iran are Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia.

  55. Cotton is a hero!
    Obama is a renegade prez.
    To think that the Libtards want
    a treaty with a Cobra!
    Iran FOR DECADES has said they will destroy America and Israel!

  56. You are just as stupid as he is. I have one question for your dumbass. Who will pay for this grand adventure?

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