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Since his inauguration in 2009, President Obama’s harshest critics — all Republicans — have grown increasingly disdainful, resentful, even hateful. The most bellicose among them question his legitimacy, doubt his birth certificate and impugn his patriotism. And, all the while, leading Republican politicians have pandered to those ugly impulses.

This week, that disrespect for Obama and his presidency reached a new low when 47 Republican senators wrote a letter to Iranian leaders suggesting that any deal with him will be overturned once he leaves office. According to experts, that action is without precedent in American history. And it will go down, perhaps, as the nadir for a Republican Party already deformed by an aging and bigoted base.

President Obama’s foreign policy team is attempting to negotiate an agreement wherein Iran gives up its ambition of becoming a nuclear state. The negotiations may fail, but it’s certainly worth a try.

But GOP hardliners are opposed to even trying to negotiate an agreement. Additionally, they’d welcome any opportunity to try to embarrass Obama on the international stage.

Speaker John Boehner had already crossed all sorts of boundaries when he invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress — and didn’t bother to inform the president. Now, Boehner’s fellow partisans in the Senate have written a letter, dripping with condescension toward the Iranians, which suggests that the next president would likely overturn any agreement that Obama makes. (Since they don’t know who’ll be in the Oval Office in 2017, they can hardly make that prediction.)

This is outrageous — and a clear violation of the Logan Act, passed in 1799. It says that any unauthorized citizen “who directly or indirectly … carries on any correspondence with any foreign government … with intent to influence the conduct of that government … or to defeat the measures of the United States” may be imprisoned. In other words, the founders of the republic recognized the danger in allowing individual citizens to conduct their own ad hoc foreign policy.

Does Obama’s race have something to do with this level of hostility and disrespect for his office? If I may use a favorite phrase of Sarah Palin, one of the president’s most reliable haters, “You betcha!” There is a reliable, if aging, constituency in the GOP that simply cannot stomach a black president.

Sure, Republicans were hostile and unhinged when Bill Clinton was president. Some among them claimed he was tied to Arkansas drug dealers. Some insisted that his wife, Hillary, had killed Vince Foster, a White House aide who committed suicide. A GOP-led Congress impeached Clinton.

And, yes, there have long been bitter disagreements over foreign policy, going back to the beginning of the republic. (That helps to explain the passage of the Logan Act.) But politics generally stopped, as the cliche goes, “at the water’s edge.”

Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a longtime Congress-watcher, told Politico that this letter plows new ground in partisanship. “What’s unusual about this — but completely in tune with what’s happened in Washington in recent years — is the contempt with which it treats the president,” he said.

If those 47 Republican senators were engaged in an honest effort to forestall a nuclear Iran, they would never have written such a letter. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointedly didn’t sign the letter because, he said, he needed to reach across the aisle in order to strengthen the agreement. (Seven GOP senators did not sign it.)

Earlier, several Democratic senators had indicated a willingness to work with Republicans to pass legislation that would give Congress a vote on any accord with Iran. Now, those Democrats are fuming over the disrespect shown Obama and are unlikely to go along with any GOP legislation.

But that’s not the greatest damage done by this gesture of contempt for Obama. Since Republicans have shown themselves willing to threaten the nation’s credibility on the world stage in order to embarrass a sitting president, they’ve set a precedent. Those are the new rules of the game, and they’re likely to be followed by Democrats and Republicans in the future — no matter who’s in the Oval Office.

That’s bad news.

Cynthia Tucker won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

Mike Maguire via Flickr

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.