NPR Anchor Melissa Block Roasts Sen. Flake With Joe Biden's Critique of 'Dangerous' GOP Iran Letter

March 13th, 2015 7:09 PM

On Tuesday's All Things Considered, NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley gave Sen. Tom Cotton just 26 words to express a conservative view: "The point we're making to Iran's leaders is that if Congress doesn't approve a deal, Congress won't accept a deal, now or in the future."

NPR was more interested in plumbing the small minority of Republicans who did not sign the open letter to Iranian leaders, and interviewed Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. Anchor Melissa Block repeatedly pressed Flake to attack his fellow Republicans, even suggests the letter aligns 47 Republicans "with Iran's hard-liners." As if Obama isn't negotiating with Iran's hard-liners?

MELISSA BLOCK: And Senator Flake, when your Republican Senate colleagues approached you with this letter to Iran warning that any agreement could be undone with the stroke of a pen, what did you tell them?

JEFF FLAKE: Well, I said negotiations are tough enough here and I didn't think it was appropriate to add another element that makes it more difficult.

MELISSA BLOCK: Not appropriate. So you think it was wrong for them to issue this letter?

JEFF FLAKE: I just felt it was not appropriate. I'll put it that way.

MELISSA BLOCK: Let me ask you about the response from Vice President Biden. He issued a long statement, called this unprecedented in his 36 years in the Senate. He said, it was beneath the dignity of an institution I revere, and he went on to say that this letter delivers a false and dangerous message expressly designed to undercut a sitting president. Do you think he's right about that?

JEFF FLAKE: Well, I don't have the, you know, the institutional memory that Joe Biden does concerning the Senate, but I do think that we ought to support negotiations that are going on. I don't think that efforts like this help those negotiations, but I do think that Congress has a role to play and will have a role once this agreement - hopefully, if it is going to come forth - once it is signed.

MELISSA BLOCK: I'll ask you about that role in a second. But what about the vice president's point that this letter is expressly designed to undermine the president, that this is a partisan move to undermine President Obama?

JEFF FLAKE: Those who signed it, I know that a lot of them are very opposed to the deal or what's been described as a deal. I don't think we know what the deal is really, but I don't want to describe it that way - I just don't think it was our role to do so.

MELISSA BLOCK: There's also this argument that the letter, signed by 47 of your Republican colleagues, aligns them with Iran's hard-liners who also oppose a deal, and if the talks collapse, this letter makes it harder to blame Iran for that. What do you think about that?

JEFF FLAKE: I don't know about that. I'm more concerned not with how Iran receives it, but with how our allies receive it. These sanctions have been effective and Iran is at the table because these sanctions have been multilateral. It's been Iran versus the West rather than Iran versus the U.S., and I think it's extremely important to maintain that coalition.

Remember this when arrogant NPR defenders claim that it's an oasis of civility, far away from the name-calling and the "food fighting." Melissa Block and her NPR bosses think it's completely fair to align most Republicans with the Ayatollahs. Flake did eventually at least stick up for his fellow Republicans on Obama's failure to deal with Congress.

MELISSA BLOCK: I'm curious, Senator Flake, if you have that conversation with your colleagues in the Senate who do think that the only acceptable deal is one that completely undoes Iran's nuclear program. Do you have that discussion with them?

JEFF FLAKE: I do. And we have, you know, hearings and Foreign Relations Committee and other discussions. There are some agreement and some disagreement. And let me just say as well, I understand the frustration that my colleagues on the Republican side have with the president. A lot of what's happening now is a manifestation of events and actions that the president has taken on other issues - immigration, or the Affordable Care Act or executive action in particular that some feel goes beyond the president's mandate. And so, it's difficult in that environment to have the level of trust that we should have.

The first commenter below the transcript underlined the view of the average Obama-loving NPR listener: “Wait a minute. A Republican breaking ranks to take a reasonable position and articulate coherent, intelligent thoughts? Are these the end times?”