WaPo Reporter: 'It Is the President Who Ratifies Treaties'

March 10th, 2015 11:35 AM

Let's call this one "technically true, but misleading."  On today's Daily Rundown, discussing the letter sent by Senate Republicans to the Iranian regime, Washington Post reporter Ishaan Tharoor said that "it is the president who ratifies treaties."  

Tharoor is right, but only in a trivial sense. The president does formally ratify treaties in that he exchanges instruments of ratification with the foreign power(s).   But that occurs only if and when the Senate has approved the treaty by a two-thirds majority vote. Tharoor made no mention of that little proviso.  

To his credit, host Jose Diaz-Balart did challenge Thaoor: "my understanding is that as far as treaties are concerned, the president negotiates it, but the Senate, the congress, does have to ratify a treaty."

It's worth watching the video just to see Tharoor's rumbling, bumbling, stumbling response to Diaz-Balart.

Tharoor has an article/opinion piece/not clear just what it is in today's Washington Post on the matter.  Its headline, "The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran," gives you the gist!

JOSE DIAZ-BALART: Now back to the fallout from the unusual letter sent from dozens of Senate Republicans to the leaders of Iran. In it, US lawmakers suggest that Iranians don't understand the American Constitution and therefore mistakenly believe that they can negotiate a deal with the Obama administration without getting congressional input. Ishaan Tharoor, writes about foreign affairs for the Washington Post, he joins me this morning. Ishaan, pleasure to see you. In your article, you say that it's the American lawmakers that are technically incorrect. What do you mean? 

ISHAAN THAROOR: That's correct. And again, I'm not a constitutional scholar, but others have pointed out since the letter came out that technically speaking the Republican lawmakers got it wrong. That it is the president who ratifies treaties with ultimately with foreign governments. I think beyond that, the more important thing to discuss about the letter is its tone and its intention. It's unclear to me what it will achieve other than this rather furious backlash from Democrats and giving hard-liners in Iran a fair amount of ammunition. And beyond that, also, it's an astonishingly condescending letter. I'm not sure if you have been following this it, but there's this incredible series of tweets between Senator Tom Cotton and the Iranian foreign minister now. And he's kind of exposed himself to a lot of ridicule. 

DIAZ-BALART: And there's nothing more finer than tweet diplomacy, I guess. But Ishaan, it's interesting because my understanding is that as far as treaties are concerned, the president negotiates it, but the Senate, the congress does have to ratify a treaty. 

THAROOR: Sure, but, but ultimately, um, whatever gets pushed through by, by this administration is, is, uh, uh, is, is, is, is an agreement between a government with another set of governments. It's also, uh, placing, uh, the US's partners, you know, the, the P5+1, that the US is part of, you know, these are the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany who are also very active in these negotiations, in an incredibly awkward position. The entire, the act of confronting Iran with this sort of letter really undermines the whole process of American diplomacy on the world stage. 

DIAZ-BALART: And maybe that's really what the senators are trying to accomplish specifically on this deal with Iran.