I suppose certain puffed-up congressmen are feeling their oats since the election, but that’s no excuse for their unauthorized trips overseas to meet with leaders of foreign nations. This destructive practice must be stopped.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson traveled to Syria and met with its president, Bashar Assad, without the authority and contrary to the wishes of the Bush administration, including the State Department.
The well-known policy of the Bush administration is that the United States has limited diplomatic ties with the Syrian government because of its support for terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas, its support of terrorism and ethnic strife in Iraq, and its policy toward Lebanon.
The Constitution firmly places the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in the hands of the executive branch because the Framers understood the pitfalls of conducting foreign policy by committee.
Legislators, no matter how personally popular or professionally respected, and irrespective of the wisdom or foolishness of the policies they are seeking to promote, have no business -- as a matter of Constitutional law, historical practice and common sense -- meeting with foreign leaders without executive permission. (Some would even argue that Nelson’s unilateral junket violates the Logan Act -- which carries criminal penalties -- but there’s insufficient space to address that here.)
It doesn’t matter that the Iraq Study Group recommended that we begin negotiating with the terrorist-sponsoring states of Syria and Iran in contravention of the Bush Doctrine. It doesn’t matter that most Democrats probably support the idea -- even though they just won back both legislative houses. The president is still in office, and this is still his call.
The Democrats have been bellyaching for years about President Bush’s allegedly nefarious efforts “to consolidate power in the executive branch.” This has always been a bogus charge, but it is especially specious coming from Democrats, who are wholly comfortable with routine usurpations of legislative authority by activist federal judges and completely unbothered by Sen. Nelson’s trip.