National Commentary

Are 47 GOP Senators ‘Traitors?’

nfbenton-mugThe appalling development of the week: Did you see that 47 Republican Senators were filmed riding a bus in Oklahoma singing outrageously racist lines?

Oh, wait! Well, you can understand why I might mix those two events up. They bore a lot of similarity to my mind.

As for the 47 Senators who decided they’re now determining U.S. foreign policy, and not the president, by sending a letter to the Iranian mullahs usurping the president’s authority, you’d think it might occur to them that they’d “crossed the line” when a major U.S. daily newspaper, the New York Daily News, by the way also a critic of the president’s negotiations with Iran, reacted to the letter by screaming on its front page Tuesday, “Traitors.”

Also on its front page, the editors of the Daily News quoted from their editorial, saying, “Regardless of President Obama’s fecklessness in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, 47 Republican U.S. senators engaged in treachery by sending a letter to the mullahs aimed at cutting the legs out from under America’s commander-in-chief. We strenuously condemn their betrayal of the U.S. constitutional system.”

While plenty of Democrats, including the President and Vice-President, had lots of things to say about this treacherous move, having such strong words come from a conservative newspaper editorial accounts for something.

The Daily News editorial, entitled “Un-Patriot Games,” said, “The participants represented the bulk of the Republicans’ 54-member senatorial majority, vesting their petulant, condescending stunt with the coloration of an institutional foreign policy statement. They are an embarrassment to the Senate and to the nation.”

In this negotiation with Iran, “there will be no place for juvenilia, and should not have been at this expectant juncture,” the editorial went on, adding, “Horrendously, every member of the Republican Senate leadership signed the letter…only seven Republicans showed enough sense not to go along…The process should play out as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, not as executed by faith-breaking frauds.”

I mentioned this outrage in the same sentence as the University of Oklahoma racist scandal – fraternity students lustily belting out lyrics using the “n” word and pledging that a “n” will hang from a tree before being allowed into the fraternity – because of the similar sentiment involved in the two incidents.

The incident caught on tape on the bus was, sad to say, not an isolated one, as students on the campus told reporters, just as with the report of rapes on the University of Virginia campus last fall. Enough furious blow-back in that latter case has everyone pretending it just never happened, or anything like it.

The “good old (white) boy” middle-American culture is clearly passing on its values to the younger generations, into the hands of those obsessed with preserving their inherited entitlement to dominion over women and racial minorities. That lies at the heart of the matter for them; most everything else is secondary.

What gets them most upset, dating back to the slave trade days and as reflected in the words of the racist chant on the bus, is not someone’s color, but that a person of color presumes to be an equal, to join a white-boy fraternity. That leads to lynching, just as it did countless times in the old South.

Why the irrational hatred of all things Obama, then? Fox News leads the drumbeat for universal Obama hatred in every way except for thin-veiling its racist appeal.

So we have all those Republican Senator white boys feeling completely entitled to usurp the reins of foreign policy from President Obama, and to do so without apology.

They feel compelled to take this approach because the president has gotten so “uppity” in recent months. Instead of bowing before his masters after the mid-terms last November, he’s awakened to his own power, inherent in his office, and is exercising it.

So the gloves are off on both sides now, though the right wing will have to go to even greater extremes to undermine the Constitution to get its way, especially if it loses the next election. Few in America are in any mood for a coup, however.