Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?

So by now it’s probably safe to assume you’ve heard of Senator Cotton’s letter to Iran, signed by 46 other senators, and the ongoing flap over it.

I’m not going to get in to the politics involved with it; that’s been done to death by better writers than I.

What I would like to know is if anyone in the Senate or on his staff took Sen. Cotton aside as he was circulating the letter and asked him something along the lines of “Is this really a good idea?”

The letter opens with a statement of utter condescension, stating flat out that the Iranian government may not be familiar with the way the American government works in regards to treaties. Did anyone realize that it’s part of the job description of ANY government’s Foreign Office or State Department (or their equivalent) to be aware of the basic operating procedures of every government that they deal with? Didn’t anyone realize how insulting this statement is?

Didn’t anyone realize that the United States and Iran aren’t the only parties involved in the negotiations? Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China are also involved. Didn’t anyone stop and ask what sort of message the letter gives to one of our greatest friends, two important allies, and two rival nations that we are and will always be negotiating with?

It should be noted (as it has been in many comments on the many news articles covering this matter) that individuals in the government have gotten themselves involved in negotiations, unasked and uninvited, for various international agreements. However, those were individuals. In this case, it’s an unprecedentedly large group who have made their interference public.

The term “senator” is derived from the Latin “senex”, meaning “old man”. The implication in the derivation is that with age comes wisdom. A “senator” is a person who has gained great wisdom with the experience of age, and can be expected to provide well-considered advice and judgment.

When the legislative branch of our government was split into two “houses” – senators and representatives – it was decided that the larger House of Representatives would have the shorter term of office – two years. Senators were fewer in number, and given six-year terms. The theoretical intent was that while the representatives would respond to short-term passions in the “body politic”, the senators would be able to consider issues in the long term (since they’d be around much longer). They are intended to be the “adults in the room”. Also, those six-year terms are staggered – only a third of the Senate deals with an election every two years. And it’s never both from the same state at the same time. For the junior senators, there’s supposed to be someone there with more wisdom who can guide them around while they learn what being a senator entails.

Senator Cotton is a first-time senator. I can almost forgive him for his childish rashness with this letter. But certainly someone else should have stopped him. And if he didn’t come up with the idea on his own, I’d love to know who put him up to it. They should have known better. Heck, all the senators involved should have known better.

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