Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why Romney's Right

The Boston Globe and others are reporting Romney’s remarks about Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria:
Romney brought up Pelosi's trip twice, both times unprompted.

"Frankly, the decision of Nancy Pelosi to go to meet with Assad in Syria is one which I find outrageous," Romney said, the second time.

Defying Bush, Pelosi, D-Calif., met with the Syrian president Wednesday in an attempt to pressure the Bush administration to open a direct dialogue with the Middle Eastern country. Democrats say the administration's attempts to isolate Syria have failed to force the Assad government to change its policies.

Certainly there will be outcry against Romney for his denouncement of Pelosi and whether this is a politically popular move is yet to be decided, but…

Romney is correct.

The President is the sole foreign policy organ under the constitution. This was understood early on in the history of the nation. In 1816, the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations stated:
The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success.

(U.S. Senate, Reports, Committee on Foreign Relations, vol. 8, p. 24.). The Supreme Court has reaffirmed this principle by stating that “[i]n this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation.” (U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright, 299 U.S. 304, 319 (1936); Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979)(concur. J. Powell)). Pelosi’s visit is, thus, patently unconstitutional so long as it conflicts with the President’s foreign policy.

Beyond the constitutional issues, the practical effect of the Pelosi visit is to present the United States as schizophrenic or bi-polar. One day nations are dealing with Bush-America, the next day nations are dealing with Pelosi-America. Neither schizophrenia nor bi-polarism is a healthy state for a person. Similarly neither is a healthy state for a nation. Which one is the one to deal with? Certainly the opposing viewpoints have their preferred representative, but that does little to solve the problem. Indeed it encourages similar behavior from other nations.

So Romney is right. He should be outraged that congressional representatives have acted outside the scope of their power and encouraged disregard for the Constitution itself.

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Blogger Marc said...

I total disagree and the fact a Republican delegation (including Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA)) visited Syria this past week underscores how this pseudo outrage is more about politics than anything else.

5:36 PM  
Blogger David said...

Interesting debate. I've never actually thought about this issue. I'll have to look into it for myself.

By the way, kudos to Kyle for being the first to actually cite case law here on LAW STUDENTS for Romney.

Marc, what of the fact (I presume) that Aderholt and Wolf's visit wasn't hostile to the President's agenda, while Pelosi's apparently was?

5:57 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

David is right. It's not the fact that congressional delegates are going to foreign nations. It's whether their visit coincides with the President's foreign policy. The news item specifically stated that Pelosi's visit was against the President's policy.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Just what is the President's agenda? Sure seems like this administration has no idea what it's doing foreign policy-wise sometimes. I think the only reason her trip is more "hostile" to the President's agenda is that she's a Democrat who happens to be Speaker of the House. The idea that the trip is "unconstitutional" is ludicrous. Pelosi is not making treaties, international agreements, or speaking for the United State. The cases Kyle cites don't provide him any support here. Goldwater was about Congress objecting to the President's unilateral recognition of China's communist government over the exiled former government in Taiwan... to extract from that that somehow the President has the power to shut off any dialogue between a member of Congress and a officials in a foreign state is a fantastic leap indeed.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Kyle... How was David "right"? I don't remember David ever even stating an opinion, he only asked a question.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I don't know what the President's policy towards Syria is (although I assume that it is isolation of some sort). Pelosi's specific purpose was to subvert the current foreign policy in favor of her own. That seems to me a patent violation and specifically the thing which the Constitution sought to avoid.

You're right that "any dialogue" between members of Congress and a foreign nation would not be prohibited, but pursuing foreign policy is left to the discretion of the President. Arguing that it's the wrong policy or that he has purely political motives is no argument. Anyone other than the President pursuing foreign policy without his blessing (or at least without his objection) is acting outside the Constitutional structure.

P.S. - I thought David's question was an assertion in the form of a question.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Under this Constitutional "theory" of yours... just where do you draw the line. Who decides what the "intent" of someone's actions are? Seems pretty damn political to me. A Republican is "assumed" to not be subverting the President while a Democrat is "assumed" to be subverting. It also seems to me that under your odd interpretation, that a politician could "violate" the Constitution by merely criticizing the Administration's foreign policy and proposing an alternative course of action. I mean, surely that would be "subvert[ing] the current foreign policy in favor of [they're] own." I don't think the President has any power over a member of Congress communicating with a foreign official. You're on pretty thin ice here by any measure.

In any event, I think it a terrible mistake for Romney to embrace the failed policies of the Bush administration. I find it disturbing how the neo-cons have taken over the GOP and I hunger for realists in the mode of Powell, Baker, and even the current Secretary of Defense Gates.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Thought you'd find these tidbits interesting Kyle [here is the whole article]:

"'I don't care what the administration says on this. You've got to do what you think is in the best interest of your country,' said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. 'I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah'.... Returning on Wednesday, the [Republican] lawmakers said they made clear to Assad that they support Bush and were not representing the administration. But they said they felt it was important to keep open lines of communication. 'This is an area where we would disagree with the administration,' [Robert] Aderholt, [R, AL] said. 'None of us in the Congress work for the president. We have to cast our own votes and ultimately answer to our own constituents. ... I think there's room that we can try to work with them as long as they know where we draw the line.'"

1:06 AM  

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