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McCain blasts new Cuba policy as illegal

McCain blasts new Cuba policy as
12/22/14 09:50 AM—UPDATED 12/22/14 10:00 AM
By Steve Benen

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made the latest in a series of Sunday show
appearances yesterday, and CNN’s Candy Crowley noted that he seems to
agree with Obama about closing the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay. “How can you help this president close Guantanamo Bay?”
the host asked.

Listening to McCain’s response, he may have misunderstood the question.
“Well, first of all, the president continues to violate the law. He did
in the Bergdahl case, which required notification of Congress. He just
did on Cuba, that he continues to act in the most imperial fashion. And
this was the president who ran on an open and transparent presidency.
It’s very disappointing.”
I listened to this a few times, trying make heads or tails of it, but
it’s just bizarre.

Even the most irate critics of the White House’s new Cuba policy haven’t
accused the president of “violating the law.” McCain appears to have
just made this up in a pique of partisan fury. Indeed, one hopes the
senator will talk to his Republican colleagues – including his own
home-state partner, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – who’ve already endorsed
Obama’s policy. Apparently they haven’t heard about its illegality.

It’s also odd to hear McCain use this as an example of Obama walking
away from an “open and transparent presidency.” Obviously, sensitive
international diplomacy requires a degree of secrecy, but the White
House notified Congress of the president’s plans, and leading lawmakers
knew about the shift in policy before the public.

So what in the world is McCain talking about? I think there are two
things going on here.

The first is that McCain clearly wants to complain about the president’s
policy, but apparently hasn’t figured out why. It’s understandably
challenging – the Arizona Republican is already on record endorsing the
same policy Obama is now pursuing.

Left without substantive talking points, McCain is apparently reduced to
complaining about process, blasting the policy as “imperial” and
insufficiently “transparent,” neither of which makes sense in context.

The second is a reminder about the danger of reflexive arguments.
Republicans have become so accustomed to knee-jerk complaints about
“Obama the ” pursuing his agenda through extra-legal, dictatorial
means that it becomes a stock answer to practically every question,
whether it makes sense or not.

And to use McCain’s wording, that’s “very disappointing.” The fact
remains that the president has the authority to shift U.S. foreign
policy. Obama can’t scrap the Cuba altogether – that would
require congressional action – but the law allows him the leeway to
change course after 54 years of failure, and so the president did
exactly that.

No one, other than McCain, is seriously suggesting the change “violates
the law,” and under the circumstances, it seems unlikely the senator
himself agrees with his own rhetoric.

Nevertheless, McCain will become the chairman of the Senate Armed
Services Committee next month, where he’ll hold any number of spirited
hearings about the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The
discussions probably won’t always be sensible, but at least they won’t
be dull.

Source: McCain blasts new Cuba policy as illegal | MSNBC –

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