GOP’s “Constitution” confusion: Why Tom Cotton’s silly Iran letter matters

March 11, 2015 4:50 PM

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However, before we look at Cotton more closely, let’s do a quick and dirty recap of one of the presidential system’s more common critiques. As readers of the late political scientist Juan Linz (or Vox’s Matt Yglesias) remember, one of the issues that can arise when a presidential system features disciplined and ideological parties is a crisis of sovereignty. That’s a fancy way of describing an argument between the executive and the legislative branches over which one is really in charge. Since they exist independently, and were empowered by voters through separate votes, both can claim to represent the will of the people. And if the two branches find themselves on opposite sides of a major dispute, push can come to shove — and worse.

Applying this model to the current foofaraw over Cotton’s letter isn’t a slam-dunk, but it is still edifying. In this case, the problem is that Cotton and his fellow signatories are mucking-up the conduct of President Obama’s foreign policy, which has traditionally been seen as Constitutionally (and...

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