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ljb5
11-14-2010, 11:19 AM
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/cantor-told-netanyahu-that-gop-will-serve-as-a-check-on-obama.php?ref=fpb

I don't know if this counts as treason, but I'm certain that Republicans would call it that, if the shoe were on the other foot.

As I see it, the U.S. Constitution empowers one branch of government (and only one) to engage in international relations. No member of another branch should take it upon themselves to independently engage a foreign nation.... and certainly shouldn't undermine the official position of the United States Government.

I'm sure you Republicans of course, will find some justification or excuse.

LeeG
11-14-2010, 11:36 AM
It's not worth characterizing Cantor as treasonous, I don't think he is, but it's worth reviewing how Israeli interests have distorted our national security interests, Israel and the US are two separate countries and contrary to Cantors comment our security isn't reliant upon Israel. To a not insignificant degree our invasion of Iraq benefitted Israel, not the US. Cantors pushing for sanctions on Iran will not serve long term US interests.

Pat Lang is good for information about Israeli influences on US policy makers, some of the respondents on his blog are as knowledgable about the issue as WBF posters are about wooden boats. No comments so far on the meeting.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2010/11/eric-cantors-foreign-policy-margaret-steinfels.html

http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/1110/Before_Clinton_meeting_Cantors_oneonone_with_Bibi_ .html?showall

Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm against the American administration.

"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."

ljb5
11-14-2010, 11:44 AM
I agree.... "treason" is usually defined as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Since Israel is not our enemy, it shouldn't be considered treason. Although I remain convinced that our Republican friends would not hesitate to use that word, if the shoe were on the other foot.

It certainly seems to be a violation of the separation of powers... at least in concept, if not in law.

The United States has one official government, one official State Department and one official policy. It is simply not appropriate for anyone to engage in parallel or divergent relations with a foreign power.

LeeG
11-14-2010, 12:11 PM
Glenn Greenwald makes some good points

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/13/israel/index.html

One other revealing and fascinating aspect to all of this. The two co-Chairmen of Obama's Deficit Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, last week unveiled a plan that would entail drastic cuts in most areas of American life, including Social Security and Medicare. Whatever else is true, American citizens are going to experience severe cut-backs in all sorts of benefits and economic security. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to shovel billions of dollars every year to Israel -- a country which, unlike the U.S., enjoys a booming economy and universal health care coverage. The Bowles/Simpson proposal would not cut any of that, but it at least calls for a reduction in the rate of growth in foreign aid, which would encompass the numerous foreign countries to which the U.S. transfers such money, with Israel leading the list and its neighbor Egypt in second place (which buys Egyptian stability and peace with Israel).

Anticipating that the extreme austerity measures which his party is demanding might sweep up foreign aid -- and therefore threaten the billions of dollars every year in American taxpayer money transferred to Israel -- Cantor last month proposed that money to Israel not be classifed any longer as "foreign aid" -- in order to shield it from all cuts. In other words, Cantor wants American citizens to sacrifice in the extreme, to lose all sorts of benefits and security in the name of austerity, but wants to shield Israel -- with a higher standard of living -- from those cuts. Put another way, Americans should give up Social Security and Medicare benefits so that they can continue to transfer billions of dollars every year to Israel, a foreign country which offers far more of a safety net to its own citizens. But don't you dare accuse Eric Cantor of haboring allegiance to Israel and subordinating U.S. interests to this foreign country. That would be extremely wrong of you to insinuate.

Ian McColgin
11-14-2010, 01:03 PM
It's not unusual for Republicans to undermine a Democratic president for political purposes, as we learned from Reagan excusing himself about his pre-election dealings with Iran. As it happens, the House has about nothing to do with foreign policy and if the rightwingers of Israel join in the common right wing delusions, they will be destroying their country in many of the same ways our right hurts ours.

Rich Jones
11-14-2010, 01:16 PM
After this election, the GOP smells blood in the water and will do or say ANYTHING to destroy President Obama. Remember, they've stated that their primary goal for the next two years is not the ecomony, not the wars, not the deficit, but to simply win back the White House and any Republican office they can. Their corporate handlers demand this and to hell with the American middle class.

LeeG
11-14-2010, 02:47 PM
Remember, they've stated that their primary goal for the next two years is not the ecomony, not the wars, not the deficit, but to simply win back the White House and any Republican office they can.

ljb5s comment and yours reminds me of Gingrich and the alliance of neocons who led the Republican opposition against Clintons Iraq policy, which provided wonderful leverage for Chalabi to provide his "oops bad intel". When we're busily engaged in domestic battles there's openings for external actors to move the balance on some issues over a tripping point.

pefjr
11-14-2010, 03:01 PM
Big to do over a friendship and some shop talk. Do you know the definition of treason?:rolleyes::d

C. Ross
11-14-2010, 03:23 PM
Really guys?

April 1, 2007 (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8O7V8JG0&show_article=1)
JERUSALEM (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will tell Syrian leaders when she visits Damascus this week on a trip criticized by the Bush administration that Israel will only engage in peace talks if Syria stops supporting Palestinian militants, Israel said Sunday. And from Free Republic (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1812651/posts), a source about as reliable and non-partisan as TPM:


WASH—Apr 5—KIN-- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit with Bashar Assad drew praise from various sectors of the world as a good first step toward peace in the Middle East, but her act of insolent treason brought anarchy to American foreign policy. Leaders of the terrorist groups Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, as reported by WorldNetDaily, praised Pelosi. Anarchy? Treason? Both are awfully silly words for this stuff.

Not to leave Palestine and Hamas out of it:

Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/10/jimmy-carters-planned-ham_n_96126.html) 4/10/08
The Bush administration has urged former President Jimmy Carter not to go forward with plans to meet with the leader of Hamas, the State Department said Thursday. Or the long history of Members of Congress criticizing the President while on foreign soil.


[Geraldine] Ferraro took a congressional trip to Nicaragua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua) at the start of 1984, where she spoke to the Contras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contras).[43] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Ferraro#cite_note-mystory-122-42) She decided that the Reagan Administration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Ronald_Reagan)'s military interventions there and in El Salvador (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Salvador) were counterproductive towards reaching U.S. security goals, and that regional negotiations would be better.Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Ferraro)

That's after just a few minutes of casual googling.

Lawmakers visit other countries and speak with officials of other countries, all the time.

Every President wants to be the sole voice on foreign affairs. Most of the time State does control things, but sometimes not.

TPM needs to take a pill.

LeeG
11-14-2010, 03:31 PM
Well one thing we can't allow is for Israel to suffer a diminution of aid while the rest of the country tightens it's belt.


"Cantor last month proposed that money to Israel not be classifed any longer as "foreign aid" -- in order to shield it from all cuts. In other words, Cantor wants American citizens to sacrifice in the extreme, to lose all sorts of benefits and security in the name of austerity, but wants to shield Israel -- with a higher standard of living -- from those cuts"-Greenwald

leikec
11-14-2010, 04:16 PM
I'm no fan of Cantor, but it is just plain silly to throw a term like "treason" for his words.

Jeff C

ljb5
11-14-2010, 04:18 PM
Really guys?

Yes, I suspected one of you would come up with a counter-example.

I wonder, though.... how was it received when Pelosi took her trip?

Oh... it was called "an act of insolent treason." Just as I thought.... 'treason' when Pelosi does it.... perfectly acceptable when Cantor does it.

Double standard... or no standard at all? Hmmm?

A couple of minor points: Jimmy Carter did not hold any official position in 2008, so nothing he said could be interpreted as representing a US policy.

Geraldine Ferraro may have gone on a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua (as many Congressmen do)... but she did not advance a policy position different than the U.S. State department. (At least not towards the Contras. A congressman is, of course, free to reach their own conclusions about what US foreign policy ought to be... but they should not attempt to advance that policy through a means other than the official US state department.)

LeeG
11-14-2010, 04:24 PM
Lawmakers visit other countries and speak with officials of other countries, all the time.
.

Netanyahu is more than an official and unlike Pelosi Cantor is saying he'll provide "checks and balances" on the president with regards to Israel. It was mighty generous of GW to sacrifice 5000US soldiers to secure against a very real threat to Israel. So what does the US get out of this relationship?

nw_noob
11-14-2010, 04:48 PM
Really guys?

Anarchy? Treason? Both are awfully silly words for this stuff.

Lawmakers visit other countries and speak with officials of other countries, all the time.


I agree that the rhetoric is overblown, but let's let Mr. Cantor speak for himself:



in 2007, Nancy Pelosi visited Syria -- she didn't pledge to side with them against her own country, just visited them -- and Eric Cantor himself was one of the many Republicans accusing her of likely having committed a crime. Cantor wrote: "Several leading legal authorities have made the case that [Pelosi's] recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American 'without authority of the United States' to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government's behavior on any disputes with the United States."



By his own standards, he may have committed a felony.

ccmanuals
11-14-2010, 04:58 PM
The GOP is in deep do do right now with the most of the national Jewish organizations. Cantor is just trying to patch things up. I don't think it's working though.

C. Ross
11-14-2010, 05:36 PM
Yes, I suspected one of you would come up with a counter-example.

...

Just as I thought.... 'treason' when Pelosi does it.... perfectly acceptable when Cantor does it.

Nope. Both visits are OK as far as I'm concerned, as long as they don't violate the Logan Act.

As far as I can tell, TPM, Free Republic, and you, are either unaware of other visits of this kind or are simply partisan.

By the way, your claims about Ms. Ferraro are incorrect. (You may read her book, or the press from the time. I visited Nicaragua as a Congressional aide about a month before her visit to El Salvador, so I remember it vividly.) But the attempt at topspin is admirable! Thanks for the chuckle!


Double standard... or no standard at all? Hmmm?

No standard? Hardly, the standard is the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Article 1 section 10 prohibits any State from entering into a treaty, Article 2 section 2 allows the President to enter into treaties and appoint ambassadors (with advice and consent of the Senate), Article 3 Section 2 says that the power of the courts extends to Treaties, and Article 6 says treaties have force of law. Maybe I'm overlooking something. Correct me. But almost everything else about the conduct of foreign affairs is tradition, and the precedents of executive power, not law or the Constitution.

No matter! This thread is certain to rage for another two pages because these threads are all about No Surrender especially when the original claims are discredited.

Spin on, friends, spin on!

ljb5
11-14-2010, 06:39 PM
No standard? Hardly, the standard is the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Article 1 section 10 prohibits any State from entering into a treaty, Article 2 section 2 allows the President to enter into treaties and appoint ambassadors (with advice and consent of the Senate), Article 3 Section 2 says that the power of the courts extends to Treaties, and Article 6 says treaties have force of law. Maybe I'm overlooking something. Correct me.

The Logan Act is not in the Constitution, but it is Law.


Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Although rarely used, there is case law, which makes it clear that it is not improper for a US Citizen (or Congressman) to conduct talks with a foreign power (as Jimmy Carter did).... but it is considered improper for them to intervene between the proper US authority and the foreign power. (i.e, make promises or engage in policy that is not in accordance with official US policy.)

What Cantor did was wrong, in my opinion, because he suggested that the US might have more than one policy.... the "Official" policy of the Executive branch... and another, "shadow" policy of the Republican party.

C. Ross
11-14-2010, 08:54 PM
The Logan Act is not in the Constitution, but it is Law.

Yes. I wrote "the standard is the Constitution and the laws of the land".


Although rarely used, there is case law, which makes it clear that it is not improper for a US Citizen (or Congressman) to conduct talks with a foreign power (as Jimmy Carter did).... but it is considered improper for them to intervene between the proper US authority and the foreign power. (i.e, make promises or engage in policy that is not in accordance with official US policy.)

Are there cases you have in mind?


What Cantor did was wrong, in my opinion, because he suggested that the US might have more than one policy.... the "Official" policy of the Executive branch... and another, "shadow" policy of the Republican party.

Maybe. Most days I would agree with you, based on the American 20th century notion that partisanship ends at the waters edge. In fact the Executive and Legislative share responsibility, and the balance has changed over time. You might find this (http://fpc.state.gov/6172.htm) interesting. I think a single Member of Congress acting independently is at least arrogant, and possibly dangerous, whether that's Cantor or Ferraro, to pick two examples.

But it's naive to think that foreign governments are blind to American partisan differences and not attuned to opportunities for leverage. Are American policy-makers blind to the differences between Sunni and Shiite, between Tory and Labor?

seanz
11-14-2010, 09:46 PM
Bunny Rabbits.


Bunny



Rabbits



With very poor reading comprehension skills.

ljb5
11-14-2010, 10:00 PM
Maybe. Most days I would agree with you, based on the American 20th century notion that partisanship ends at the waters edge.

It must be so convenient to discard notions with every change of administration.


In fact the Executive and Legislative share responsibility, and the balance has changed over time.

Oh, that's quite a stretch. Mr. Cantor is a legislator... not "the Legislative." Let's not get carried away.

ljb5
11-14-2010, 10:01 PM
Say, ljb5, any possibility of treason in this private meeting?


Netanyahu also met separately with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)



Only if Mr. Schumer tried to advance a foreign policy that is at odds with the official administration. Seems unlikely.

seanz
11-14-2010, 10:12 PM
Please quote the relevant section of the article that indicates


So you don't know what Schumer and Netanyahu discussed in private?

You haven't followed up with Kampea's blog (http://blogs.jta.org/politics/article/2010/11/11/2741711/candid-cantor)that indicates his original blog may have "overstated"?

Interesting that the blogger starting what you have hyperboled into "treason" is posting the counter from Cantor's office and backpedaling a bit. But you never will, will you? There should be a special place in hell for people who irresponsibly use words like treason.

There is, it's full of neo-cons.

C. Ross
11-14-2010, 10:17 PM
It must be so convenient to discard notions with every change of administration.

Speak for yourself. My opinion was the same back when Reagan was in office and I worked on this stuff. I had a housemate who worked for Ferraro, and another housemate to the right of Ghengis Khan, and defended the Congresswoman's right to criticize Central American policy. (My other housemate thought she should be tried for treason. How things stay the same!)

And for those keeping score at home, I voted for Obama and do my share to support his agenda.


Oh, that's quite a stretch. Mr. Cantor is a legislator... not "the Legislative." Let's not get carried away.

Sigh. I also wrote this:
I think a single Member of Congress acting independently is at least arrogant, and possibly dangerous, whether that's Cantor or Ferraro, to pick two examples.

Are we still having fun?

ljb5
11-14-2010, 10:20 PM
Please quote the relevant section of the article that indicates


Mr. Schumer tried to advance a foreign policy that is at odds with the official administration.

Oh, I think that one's on you, big guy. :D


So you don't know what Schumer and Netanyahu discussed in private? He didn't release a press release claiming to be a "check" on the US Administration.


You haven't followed up with Kampea's blog (http://blogs.jta.org/politics/article/2010/11/11/2741711/candid-cantor)that indicates his original blog may have "overstated"?

Kampea has a right to draw his own conclusions, but I'm not bound by them. Mr. Cantor, himself, has said he met with Bibi and told him that he would serve as a "check on the administration."

That's the part I take issue with... that he said he would oppose the U.S. President and side with a foreign power. It's one thing to say he supports Israel.... it's quite another to say he opposes the US.


There should be a special place in hell for people who irresponsibly use words like treason.

Ann Coulter made quite a fortune throwing that word around carelessly. I didn't hear you complain. :rolleyes:

seanz
11-14-2010, 10:50 PM
Can I use points to buy lettuce?
:)

Milo Christensen
11-14-2010, 10:51 PM
For the record, I reconsidered words posted in haste and deleted them within a minute or so. I'd appreciate it if seanz and ljb5 would respect that decision and withdraw their responses.

seanz
11-14-2010, 10:54 PM
Where's the fun in that?
:D

seanz
11-14-2010, 11:03 PM
For the record, I reconsidered words posted in haste and deleted them within a minute or so. I'd appreciate it if seanz and ljb5 would respect that decision and withdraw their responses.

I'll withdraw my comment if you say that you're very, very sorry and promise to never do it again.

As an added bonus I promise not to imply that you are a bunny rabbit with poor reading comprehension......for the next 3 hours.

Deal?

C. Ross
11-14-2010, 11:12 PM
Would that others follow Milo's example.

ljb5
11-14-2010, 11:32 PM
For the record, I reconsidered words posted in haste and deleted them within a minute or so. I'd appreciate it if seanz and ljb5 would respect that decision and withdraw their responses.

I don't have a problem with anything you posted.

Just out of curiosity.... did anyone here actually say they considered this treason?

I know Ann Coulter wrote a whole book by that title... and Cris pointed out that Free Republic used that term....

....but did anyone on this thread actually accuse Cantor of treason?

leikec
11-15-2010, 12:31 AM
Would that others follow Milo's example.


I agree.

Jeff C

LeeG
11-15-2010, 05:23 AM
speaking of foreign policy, this is what Cantor is working against:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/11/13/indias_sound_advice_on_iran/

India, like many other regional powers, takes the Iranian threat far less seriously than the United States does. It does not see Iran as an existential threat to anyone, but rather as just another thuggish country with resources, and wants to see it enticed back into the world’s mainstream. India would like the United States to adopt a more accommodating policy toward Iran — and could even serve as the bridge that makes it possible.

One of Iran’s other neighbors, Turkey, has already tried this approach. Turkish leaders have urged the United States to ratchet down its anti-Iran rhetoric, seek compromise instead of confrontation, and work to address Iran’s concerns in an effort to draw it out of its isolation. The Obama administration has rejected this advice. Now it’s India’s turn to try.

skuthorp
11-15-2010, 05:36 AM
What, turn down a possible war? The US arms industry would be in meltdown at the suggestion! I mean they used all the old stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Karzai is saying it's time for the US to wind down, they need another war in the offing to justify the pentagon budget. Good heavens, next thing there'll be a suggestion that the JSF is somewhat of a luxury and maybe we don't need it after all.

LeeG
11-15-2010, 06:37 AM
Good heavens, next thing there'll be a suggestion that the JSF is somewhat of a luxury and maybe we don't need it after all.

I wonder if by the time F35 production is up and running full speed swarming UAVs running on their own inboard computer guidance render $100million fighters an overly expensive and antiquated platform.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/jan-june10/defense_04-21.html

The military's current plan is to buy 2,443 of the so-called Lightning IIs for an estimated $323 billion, making it the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program.

C. Ross
11-15-2010, 07:50 AM
Just out of curiosity.... did anyone here actually say they considered this treason?

No. Why actually accuse someone of beating their wife when speculating whether they've stopped is more effective?


I don't know if this counts as treason, but I'm certain that Republicans would call it that, if the shoe were on the other foot.

Google "Cantor treason". You'll find that nut jobs like Ann Coulter and Free Republic have plenty of company.

It's also amusing to read folks on the left asserting that the President has sole discretion in foreign policy. First, it's not true (see the official State Department document I linked above which says powers are shared). Second, wasn't a principal complaint about Bush the theory pushed by neocons that the Executive had powers in excess of Congress, especially in foreign affairs? The left must be full of either quick learners or people with very short memories!

ljb5
11-15-2010, 08:04 AM
The left must be full of either quick learners or people with very short memories!

Apparently, it's not just 'the left.' A few years ago, Cantor himself was calling this sort of behavior a 'felony!'

C. Ross
11-15-2010, 08:08 AM
Apparently, it's not just 'the left.' A few years ago, Cantor himself was calling this sort of behavior a 'felony!'

Bizarre, isn't it?

It's like people forget that things get recorded and written down, and that there is such a thing as virtue in consistent principles, regardless of whether your party is in or out.

To their credit, the State Department has been mostly silent on this. But then, that building is pretty much full of grown-ups regardless of the President's party.

BrianW
11-15-2010, 08:24 AM
When it's obviously a technique shared by both sides of the aisle, why are some trying so hard to make it a Republican issue?

It makes me wonder whether they're truly concerned with the process, or just encouraging partisan politics.

Ian McColgin
11-15-2010, 08:49 AM
It is NOT a technique used by both sides. You'll see Democratic politicians abroad asking questions but I cannot think of any who made any political promices directly to a foreign leader. A Representative or Senator has a proper role asking hard questions in congress, whether full session or committee, and has a proper role raising policy alternatives in electoral campaigns and communications with constituents. Sometimes congressional people even represent the President to foreign leaders. But I can't think of an example of a Democrat senator or representative making political deals with foreigners in opposition to the sitting president.

C. Ross
11-15-2010, 09:33 AM
Ian, did Cantor "[make a] political deal with foreigners in opposition to the sitting president"? How, exactly?

How do his statements differ in content, tone, substance or venue from a meeting between Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya?


In 2004 [Lantos] led the first congressional delegation to Libya in more than 30 years, meeting Colonel Gaddafi and urging the Bush Administration to show “good faith” in the Libyan leader’s pledge to abandon nuclear weapons.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article3358689.ece

C. Ross
11-15-2010, 09:47 AM
And another good article on the subject, from 2007

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/04/congress_develops_its_own_fore.html

I think this represents the good healthy balance that the Constitution placed on Executive and Congressional leadership of foreign affairs.

Again, the official State Department policy is that the responsibility is shared.


Congress Develops Its Own Foreign Policy

By Peter Brown (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/author/peter_brown/)
Once upon a time in Washington, D.C. there was an informal agreement that partisan political differences within the United States did not extend to America's dealings with the rest of the world.

Congress' current attempt to offer its own foreign policy marks the end of that doctrine, which, truth be told, has been on life support for some time.

How one sees this development almost certainly depends on his or her view of President George W. Bush, but clearly the once-universally accepted notion that America speaks with one voice, that of the president, to foreign nations, is no more.

The informal agreement that once existed between the two political parties not to offer conflicting signals to America's friends and foes is another casualty of the "D.C. disease" that has made bipartisan cooperation on virtually everything an anachronism.

In fact, as the Washington Post, hardly a Republican mouthpiece, recently editorialized, the Democratic Congress seems intent on developing its own foreign policy.

Consider:
* Congress has publicly told the world that it, not the president, makes foreign policy. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of spending bills that limit Bush's power to wage war and force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the nation's highest ranking Democrat, rejected White House pleas to follow Bush's policy against any high-level contacts with Syria, a country he says sponsors terrorism.
* Steny Hoyer, the House's second-ranking Democrat, did much the same in meeting with the leader of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, whom U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has refused to meet.
Of course these developments are not the first to demonstrate that the notion of a bipartisan foreign policy has gone the way of the dinosaur. During the Vietnam-era and the Cold War there were obvious policy differences between the two parties. But, for the most part, Democratic and Republican leaders gave lip service to the ideal of the president speaking for America.

Two decades ago, it would have been impossible to imagine House Speaker Tip O'Neill, every bit the Democratic partisan as is Pelosi today, meeting a foreign leader against Ronald Reagan's wishes.

Whether Congress can accomplish anything other than demonstrating to the rest of the world the internal divisions that exist within D.C.'s halls of power is unclear.

Bush has pledged to veto any measure which would set a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq and his opponents are far short of the votes to override him.

Neither the Pelosi nor the Hoyer trips are likely to change U.S. policy, especially toward Syria, which has been implicated in the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.

But that is not the point; the Democrats understand Bush's ability to veto their legislation, or denounce their trips. They are just making sure everyone - from Moscow, Idaho to Moscow, Russia -- knows they have their own foreign policy.

All of this begs the question of whether an outspoken role for the U.S. political party that does not hold the White House in dealing with the rest of the world is permanent, and good for the country.

Democrats argue that Bush politicized the war on terror and the war on Iraq, trying to cast those who disagreed with him as wrong-headed if not unpatriotic, and they are just responding now that they control Congress.
They are doing this because the United States does not have had a parliamentary system like many European countries, in which a majority of lawmakers can effectively force the chief executive to resign and call a new election. If America had that system, then lawmakers could effectively force a change in foreign policy.

But the American electoral system gives the president four years to do pretty much what he wants as long as he does not commit an impeachable offense, which is what frustrates the Democrats, and has led to their votes and trips.
The war-limiting legislation and the Democratic trips underscores just how much things have changed. Although hope may spring eternal, it is unlikely we'll see Congress reverting to its historic role in foreign affairs any time soon.

Peter A. Brown is assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. He can be reached at peter.brown@quinnipiac.edu

Ian McColgin
11-15-2010, 12:16 PM
The article referenced in #40 about Rep Lantos visiting Gaddafi established explicityly that Lantos alligned with neocons on foreign policy and implicitly, given what Bush 41 subsequently did, that he was communicating on behalf of the administration. In short, not an example of the sort of thing Cantor did.

Cantor says he did not make a deal. It feels like more of one than the incident I'd forgotten but comes very close to what I'd said I could not recall D's doing: Rep Hoyer's meet in Egypt. Here's the big difference - even in the Hoyer case, there is no report of his promicing anything. He just listened and learned.

The D's object to a president's policy Congressional action. They don't undermine a sitting president as a candidate by negotiating with hostage takers and they don't make promices to foreign leaders. Had Cantor simply stuck with acting in congress, had he not made such a big thing about making promices to Netanyahu, had he met and listened like Schummer, it would feel less like a deal. Cantor says there was no deal, and he might be telling the truth as we know of no quid for his quo. We don't know of defense contractor dollars going to support Republican election campaigns. We don't know of multinationals funneling the monies of foreign client-states into our electoral process. So sure, perhaps Cantor is telling the truth.