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Spitting on the Constitution to pass the Iran deal

By John Podhoretz      •      New York Post

Smug-ObamaIt’s rare for people to celebrate getting 41 percent of anything. If you score 41 percent on a test, you get an F. If you win 41 percent of the vote in a two-person race, you lose. If your tax rate is 41 percent, you’re likely to feel ripped off.

In the matter of his Iran deal, President Obama and his team have spent two months working relentlessly to secure 41 percent — and now they’re claiming an enormous victory even though by any other standards what they’ve achieved is nothing but a feat of unconstitutional trickery.

They worked throughout the summer to browbeat Senate Democrats so they could get 41 of them to say they would support the Iran nuclear deal. They’re up to 42 now — that’s a mere 42 percent of the Senate.

Why is the number 41 so magical? Why is a failure of this magnitude being greeted as a triumph?

Welcome to the Bizarro World that is Barack Obama’s Washington.

Under the Constitution, treaties require the support of two-thirds of the Senate. The deal with Iran is a treaty in every respect — a legally binding long-term agreement between sovereign powers, in which hundreds of billions of dollars will flow and billions of dollars in nuclear materiel will be destroyed.

Since this is a treaty and we have 100 senators, Obama should have been obliged to secure the backing of 67 senators, not 41.

But Obama knew he could never get his treaty through Congress. You see, the American people have given the Republican Party majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The very fact that the American people did so to put a brake on Obama’s outsized ambitions just wasn’t going to hold this guy back.

After first informing Congress that he would simply implement it — as an executive action rather than a treaty — without submitting the deal to a vote, Obama relented.

Kind of.

He and Congress agreed the deal would be subject to a vote — not of approval, like a treaty, but of disapproval. It would be treated like any piece of legislation. It would be voted on by the House and the Senate, and if they turned thumbs-down, he could then exercise his presidential veto.

The Constitution requires a second vote by the two Houses of Congress to overturn such a veto — and in that case, the vote has to be by two-thirds.

That’s why for months people have been saying the president has turned the Constitution on its head — because instead of 67 senators having to support the deal to make it legal, 67 senators have to disapprove of it to render it null and void.

But now comes that infamous 41 number. Why is this important? Because of a weird Senate procedure called “cloture,” the only way to get a vote on the floor of the Senate is for 60 senators to agree to allow it to happen. So if 41 disagree, the bill cannot be voted on.

With 42 senators saying they will support the deal, Obama may have the raw numbers to block even the first vote.

Thus, it may well be that for the first time in American history, a president will simply impose a treaty on the country without even the pretense of seeking and obtaining the advice and consent of the Congress.

And how? With 42 percent.

To call this a scandal doesn’t even begin to do justice to what it is. It really does suggest we are fast turning into a banana republic, whose leaders feel free to spit on a Constitution whose central purpose is to restrain the ambitions of strongmen and their shameful toadies.