Donald Trump, constitutionalist

Here’s a headline you probably never expected to read, for a theme F.H. Buckley argues:

Do you remember how glum Barak Obama looked after last year’s election? It wasn’t because he liked Hillary Clinton. Instead, he was mourning for the last four years of his administration. He was looking at all his unconstitutional executive orders going down the tube.

Obama kept the Affordable Care Act looking healthy via an extra-constitutional grant of $1 trillion to health-insurance companies. That required congressional approval, and Obama’s decision to bypass Congress was held unconstitutional by a federal court. President Trump’s decision Thursday to halt the bailout makes the litigation moot and represents a return to constitutional government.

The same can be said of Trump’s Friday decision to throw the Iran deal back to Congress, by refusing to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal.

Recall that this was a treaty that should never have been adopted without two-thirds approval in the Senate, as required by the Constitution. That didn’t happen — because a compliant Republican Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which provided that the president certify to Congress every 90 days that the suspension of sanctions against the regime is “appropriate and proportionate” with respect to its illicit nuclear program.

And that’s what Trump didn’t do. He didn’t tear up the treaty, or even decertify anything. Rather, he failed to certify, and simply told the truth. Iran isn’t permitting the nuclear inspections the treaty contemplates, and the Revolutionary Guard, which controls much of the government, is a terrorist organization.

The regime is building missiles that threaten us and our allies, and its infractions don’t justify our continued suspension of sanctions.

Now it’s Congress that has to act. Or dodge its duty, as it did when it passed INARA in 2015.

We’ve seen a lot of congressional Republicans chafing at the president, and Trump’s decision not to certify that Iran is in compliance amounts to a message to them. “OK, guys, you don’t like what I’m doing? Let’s see what you come up with.”

Trump’s decision is also a special message to Sen. Bob Corker. He’s been Trump’s biggest critic in Congress lately, and his name is on the INARA legislation.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker was the one who should have insisted that the treaty be submitted for formal approval by two-thirds of the Senate. He knew that that would never happen, and became Obama’s willing accomplice in the end run around the Constitution.

He was the guy who could have stopped the Iran treaty from going through, and he failed to do so. And now we’re supposed to pay attention to what he thinks of Trump’s foreign-policy decisions?

What Obama and Corker gave us was one of the worst deals America has ever made. We gave Iran $1.7 billion in upfront cash, which it doubtless used to support terrorism and develop weapons that could be used against us. The deal legitimized Iran as the dominant power in the region.

It signaled that we were weak, that Iran could defy us with impunity, that it could proceed to develop a nuclear arsenal and a delivery system that could destroy its hated enemy in Israel and threaten us, that it could roll all over us.

The administration also announced that the Treasury would designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, which will serve to restrict its access to funds. The Guard has armed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and controls the levers of power in that country. Its fingerprints are on every one of Assad’s atrocities. Its support for terrorism extends to Yemen and Lebanon, and it has even plotted assassinations in the United States.

The terms of the Iran deal specified that the regime was supposed to contribute to “regional and international peace and security,” and it has done the exact opposite.

The administration’s new policies on Iran were adopted in close consultation with our allies in the region and also with the European co-signatories to the treaty (even though the Europeans don’t like the US actions). Trump has also signaled his desire to work with Congress to address the treaty’s serious flaws, and to amend INARA to prevent Iran from threatening us with nuclear weapons.

From 2013 to 2017 we experienced a period of monarchical government under good King Obama and his executive diktats. Under Trump we’re seeing a return to constitutional government. Sometimes that means that things don’t happen, and don’t get passed. But if so, it’s as the Framers intended.

I could also have written the headline “Right things for wrong reasons” or “Right things in the wrong ways.” The Iran treaty was also a bad deal, which is why it deserves to be killed. Trump’s executive order on ObamaCare subsidies undid an Obama executive order, and the same thing has happened on the so-called clean power program. That also supplies to Obama’s “Dreamers” executive order, which should have been submitted to Congress instead, since that is how the legislative process works.

 

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