Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 7, 2009

GOP LAWMAKERS UNDERMINE U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ABROAD.... Not too long ago, there were certain political norms, we were told, that couldn't be ignored when it came to the foreign policy of the United States.

Throughout the Bush/Cheney years, for example, we were reminded about "politics stopping at the water's edge." It was considered outrageous, if not borderline treasonous, to criticize the president's foreign policy while he was overseas. Worse, if U.S. officials were overseas themselves, they were expected to wait until they're back on American soil before undermining the president's foreign policy.

All of that has gone completely out the window now that there's a Democratic president again. In June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) traveled to China, America's biggest creditor, where he encouraged Chinese officials not to believe the U.S. government when it comes to budget issues. This week, a number of Republican members of Congress traveled to Israel to undermine the administration's efforts on Middle East peace.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took a swipe at President Barack Obama's Mideast policy in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling reporters he was worried about the administration's direction in its attempts to forge a settlement in the region.

"We're here to try and make things better; we are here because we are concerned," Cantor said. "We are concerned about what the White House has been signaling as of late in their desire to push through in terms of a Middle East peace plan."

Cantor's comments leave the high-ranking Republican open to Democratic criticism for criticizing the president while on foreign soil.

There's really no excuse for this. Put aside the question of whether you believe the president is right or wrong about the Israeli settlement issue, because in this case, that's a secondary question.

The central issue here is whether elected officials should travel abroad to criticize and undermine the foreign policy of the American government. If Cantor and his pals want to trash the U.S. approach from the floor of the House or in a press release, that's merely annoying. But for them to go to foreign soil and work against the sitting president is pathetic, even by the low standards of House Republicans.

Steve Benen 9:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

I thought for an instant you were referring to Nancy Pelosi meeting with Assad last year. Silly me.

Posted by: Mike K on August 7, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the President but I would make an exception for one more settlement that housed Cantor, Inhofe, Boner, etc.

Posted by: Pat on August 7, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

For Republicans, Democrats are the enemy, and are not real Americans. Republicans will do and say anything it takes to get back into power and, once there, will do and say anything it takes to stay there. Okay, that's pretty much the definition of politicians in general, but Democratic administrations at least usually concentrate on a positive image of an approachable country abroad and a prosperous country at home. Republicans can't wait to start another war, and recommence throwing wads of money at their cronies. Business as usual.

Posted by: Mark on August 7, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

why anyone cares about what Cantor has to say is beyond me.

Posted by: Jamie on August 7, 2009 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

traditionally, these people would be considered traitors...and find themselves without a country out there.

Posted by: neill on August 7, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Mike K.: If you remember, Rethuglicans crucified Pelosi for that. I'm waiting for these same asswipes to do the same for the two GOopers who went abroad, but all I hear is crickets.

Posted by: estamm on August 7, 2009 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, 'morning, Mike! Say, did Pelosi openly and loudly criticize Bush foreign policy while she was in Syria? Seems to me the best the media could come up with at the time was some manufactured flap about a headscarf or something - I must have missed the part where she sucked up to Assad and said she was concerned that President Bush wasn't sufficiently pro-Syria in his Middle East deliberations.

If by "silly" you meant "thick as an Oregon pine and so dense as to be soundproof", you were correct.

Posted by: Mark on August 7, 2009 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

perhaps a.g. holder could tell mr cantor he might be charged with treason if he keeps it up?

Posted by: just bill on August 7, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have no standards, no conscience, no ethics and no soul.

I would expect nothing less.

And Mike, you tool, show me what Pelosi did to undermine Bush. She should have (many times over) but she never did.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 7, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

"I thought for an instant you were referring to Nancy Pelosi meeting with Assad last year. Silly me."

Leaving aside the specifics of what Pelosi said, if you're saying that what Pelosi said was a criticism, and that it was unacceptable for her to criticize US policy outside the US, why is Cantor's criticism acceptable? IOCIYR?

And as for Kirk, that wasn't a criticism, it was as though he was speaking for the US gov't as its representative, talking to our largest creditor, and saying "call in your loan". That's *way* beyond criticism. Imagine if I went to your bank and said that you were insolvent, and that they shouldn't trust you, that would be just plain defamation, and you could have me arrested for it. Why is Kirk different? IOCIYR?

Posted by: Bruce B on August 7, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

As a lifelong Virginian, I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Thanks, Cantor.

Posted by: chrenson on August 7, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

In the commentors replies to Mike K., they have forgotten the realities of life...

It is always correct to criticize Pelosi for any reason.
It is always correct to criticize any democrat approach to foreign policy.
It is always correct to stand up against the misguided policies of Obama.

The Chosen One and his democrat supporters are interlopers in our country's true foreign policy. When Obama is defeated in 2012, we will return to the true foreign policy of the U.S. under the next Real American president.

As we who are right understand, negotiations are for wimps.
As we who are right understand, intimidation is the only correct U.S. foreign policy.
As we who are right understand, war is always a justifiable foreign policy.
As we who are right understand, any Israeli policy that is not 100% in agreement with the Likud party is wrong and dangerous.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on August 7, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Who publically criticized Bush while in Syria?

Well, I found this in an AP report on the GOP visit:

"Three Republican congressmen who parted with President Bush by meeting with Syrian leaders said Wednesday it is important to maintain a dialogue with a country the White House says sponsors terrorism.

“'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."

“'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.'”

Posted by: 2Manchu on August 7, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

You assume people like Mike K are trolls, but it's almost a performance art of the Republican Id. Watching the Healthcare "debate" unfold, I'm struck by how incredibly over-the-top the anger of some of the non-operatives is, and how so much of it is based upon opinions that could be debunked with about 2 seconds of research and any interest in knowing the facts.

But that's not what this is about. They already know the truth. They're just looking for any evidence in the world that confirms it.

Posted by: Paulk on August 7, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, you're talking about folks who think it's just fine to terrify and enrage a lot of ignorant people by telling flat-out lies, in an attempt to turn them against their government. Next to that, what's a little criticism on foreign soil?

Posted by: karen on August 7, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow I don't recall hearing this same criticism when Jimmy Carter went to Gaza to urge them to continue their illegal attacks on Jewish civilians. The Republicans suck, but I don't see that anyone have actually encouraged attacks on American allies. But I guess if Democrats do it, it's ok.

Posted by: mike on August 7, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

OMG, the GOP not only critizied Pelosi, they condemned the Dixie Chicks at their London concert for saying they were ashamed Bush was from Texas. They were branded as traitors - and this was just a band.
I jeez, I forget, we are all evil degenerates and the GOP are the enlightened ones who are blessed with the knowledge of governance. And eight years under Bush prove how right they really were.

Posted by: whichwitch on August 7, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Mike K.: If you remember, Rethuglicans crucified Pelosi for that. I'm waiting for these same asswipes to do the same for the two GOopers who went abroad, but all I hear is crickets.
Posted by: estamm

I guess that means both parties are hypocritical, eh ? I just like pointing out silliness. Plenty of targets around here.

Posted by: Mike K on August 7, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow I don't recall hearing this same criticism when Jimmy Carter went to Gaza to urge them to continue their illegal attacks on Jewish civilians.

Probably because this event doesn't exist any where except in your imagination.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/16/carter-hamas-gaza-israel

Posted by: Paulk on August 7, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have to be held acoountable to their actions in public. this nonsens will stop. If it is against the law the person shouild be charged and tried in US courts. Period.

Posted by: MLJohnston on August 7, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

No recitation of facts regarding Pelosi not having spoken out against Bush's foreign policy shall move me. I'm too busy thinking about silliness.

Really. I think about silliness all the time.

Posted by: Myke K on August 7, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

"I guess that means both parties are hypocritical, eh ? I just like pointing out silliness. Plenty of targets around here."

The Democrats are not the hypocritical ones here: In case you hadn't noticed, I don't hear the thunderous condemnation of Cantor or Kirk from Democrats in the same way that we heard the condemnation of Pelosi from the Republicans. And that is even considering that Pelosi didn't say *anything* against Bush, while these two morons are badmouthing Obama. So no, no hypocrisy from the left (although spinelessness is much in evidence... there should be a Congressional resolution condemning those two up for a vote immediately). Much hypocrisy on the right. The Republican motto: Heads I win, tails you lose.

Posted by: estamm on August 7, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Why, oh why did we have to win the Civil War? If only we had lost, things would have turned out so much better! The United Sattes wouldn't be in Iraq, would have universal health care like the civilized world, our semi-delusional village idiots wouldn't be armed to the teeth, Glen Beck would be back where he belongs, drunk in a gutter somewhere and the right-wing, teabagging wingnuts would have a country they could call their own and the South would be free to slide peacefully and gently into the third world wheere it belongs.

Posted by: Chesire11 on August 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Franklin Schaeffer, writing about Republican opposition to healt care reform in Alternet, hits it pretty accurately on the reason for all their opposition.

I think I know what happened to... Gingrich and the rest: They can't compute that their white man-led conservative revolution is dead. They can't reconcile their idea of themselves with the fact that white men like them don't run the country any more -- and never will again. To them the black president is leading a column of the "other" into their promised land. Gays, immigrants, blacks, progressives, even a female Hispanic appointed to the Supreme Court... for them this is the Apocalypse.

As for Cantor, he's the Likud's representative in their sister party, the Republicans. Of course he wants the Israeli tail to continue wagging the American dog.

Posted by: TCinLA on August 7, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Can't we still put people to death for treason? Oh, what a dream.

Posted by: Jesse on August 7, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think I would fall over dead from shock if I ever read a comment from a conservative that actually attempted to make an argument based on facts, and wasn't just some childish attempt to crap in the pool. The pattern is always the same. They drop in some non-sequitur argument, then refuse to follow up when it's pointed out that they are making no sense. Instead, they continue making unsupportable accusations. It is literally the same every single time. Hell, if just one of them made a logical, fact-based argument I might be forced to re-evaluate my positions. But that will never happen, so I'm safe.

Posted by: Singularity on August 7, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, pssssst....I think Singularity is talking about you, you puffy old poll.

Posted by: Susan Johnson on August 7, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's high time we abandoned our righteous outrage and started using the only weapon that's really effective: scorn and derision.

Instead of "Do you believe the arrogance of these Republicans talking against their Government's foreign policy?"

Try this: "You know, these Republicans are idiots. Here they are in a foreign country, spouting off about what they think of their Government's foreign policy. Did it not occur to them that they might not know everything about that policy?"

Or something.

Posted by: PowerOfX on August 7, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't whether the GOP congressmen should be trashing a US president soil. the issue is: how can the GOP congressmen and anyone else (like you) believe that the foreign governments/diplomats give these guys any modicum of credibility, from whatever spews from their mouths?

Foreign governments/diplomats aren't bobbled-headed neophytes; they are incredibly smart, highly knowledgeable and probably operate with more nuance, cleverness and subterfuge than we can possibly imagine. As easily as they know their A-B-Cs or multiplication tables, they know the global power situation and who has the influence in DC.

And it sure as hell isn't that clown Cantor or any other of his circus freaks.

You clearly underestimate the global scene and overestimate the hillbillies of the GOP.

Posted by: dcrolg on August 7, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor didn't come up with this on his own...he's too stupid. He's being well paid to make such comments...which are seditious and just short of treason. The question is not who Cantor would sell down the river (like our country or our president) but "how much" money will it take for him to do it.

Tell it to the president Cantor, not to foreigners.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 7, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

It seems Cantor isn't satisfied making America SEEM like the Dumbest Nation in the World by being hyper-critical of all things Democratic while on U.S. soil, now he's got to go overseas and PROVE it!

You know, the more I think about it, I'm beginning to agree with the likes of Cantor, Boehner, Rush, Newt, Bill-O, and Glenn. It is becoming VERY apparent that the America our forefathers envisioned and intended IS slipping away and I'm very fearful those days are gone forever. What with their "Conservatives First" mentality, they are doing everything they can to tear our country asunder.

Michele Cottle had a great quote yesterday that went something like this: "So much for loyal opposition. At this point, I'd settle for a sane one." Spot On!

I pray that we can get beyond this nightmare we're now living through and become a sane nation again - someday.

Posted by: mrspeel on August 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans have never believed that this 'doctrine' applied to them. In the 1970s Jessie Helms went to Chile and told the public and the junta running the country to ignore the Carter administration (which was trying to get the junta to stop torturing and assassinating people) they were all a bunch of Communists...His own President.

Posted by: Marion on August 7, 2009 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK
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