Speaking of arrogation of power

Janet Alexander jca at stanford.edu
Thu Apr 5 22:12:45 PDT 2007

I was just checking the Internet to see how often Newt Gingrich took 
foreign trips in which he did not get 100% behind Clinton's foreign 
policy.  In Apr 1997, Gingrich traveled to China and while there expressed 
views about Washington's commitment to Taiwan that "exceed[ed] the normal 
State Department formulations on American commitments to Taiwan."  Gingrich 
then went to Taiwan and "elaborated on a pledge he first made in Shanghai" 
that "It is important to be explicit with both the People's Republic of 
China and Taiwan that should Beijing seek to unify Taiwan with the mainland 
by force or intimidation, the United States will use all means necessary to 
prevent it."  Not surprisingly, this provoked a protest from China's 
I think we can say Nancy Pelosi is safely within this standard of 
appropriate behavior for Speakers of the House.

On the same search, up popped March 12, 1999: while Clinton is on a foreign 
trip the Republican House leadership holds a vote on deploying troops to 
Kosovo despite Clinton's asking them not to while negotiations were going 
on; although the vote winds up supporting deployment, the Senate leadership 
talks about scheduling a vote of their own against deployment.

I'm sure it was quite different then, perfectly all right.

At 12:41 AM 4/6/2007 -0400, RJLipkin at aol.com wrote:
>It might be helpful if Eugene would specify just how Ms. Pelosi was 
>"carrying on foreign policy." She cannot negotiate any treaties, appoint 
>any ambassors, or even for that matter, guarantee any economic aid. 
>Indeed, even if she was inclined--and it's not clear that she was--she 
>could not make any sort of promise to Syria for future consideration.
>That said, I would like to pose the following question to Eugene. There 
>are many Americans, like me, who believe Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq and 
>the failures that ensued are examples of the least responsible, least 
>competent, and most morally bankrupt phase of American foreign policy in 
>at least my lifetime. His mistakes, I fear, have caused a multifarious 
>range of problems that will take Americans decades to overcome. In my 
>view, whatever general rules about the conduct of congresspersons have 
>little purchase at this time.
>But, I'm sure, Eugene will disagree.  Fair enough.  What I am intensely 
>interested in is what, in Eugene's view, would warrant a Speaker of the 
>House to actually carry on foreign policy--whatever that would 
>like--because the President has dangerously spent our moral capital and 
>put our role in the world and our safety in an extremely perilous state. 
>Alternatively stated, is Eugene's condemnation of Ms. Pelosi based on a 
>general (exceptionalness) principle that Speakers should never carry on 
>foreign policy? If not, then what are the circumstances that would warrant 
>a Speaker to act in this fashion?  More generally, I suspect some 
>conservatives and some liberals differ on what they believe is appropriate 
>political action because their perceptions of our circumstances differ 
>radically.  If that's right, then what kinds of circumstances need to 
>exist before governmental officials and ordinary citizens can conclude 
>that the situation cannot be governed by having a "business as usual" 
>attitude. What circumstances would have to exist before it was morally 
>permissible or required to engage in any legal conduct which attempts to 
>rectify a contemporary disaster however unusual that conduct might be?
>Robert Justin Lipkin
>Professor of Law
>Widener University School of Law
>Ratio Juris, Contributor:  http://ratiojuris.blogspot.com/
>Essentially Contested America, Editor: 
>See what's free at <http://www.aol.com?ncid=AOLAOF00020000000503>AOL.com.
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Janet Cooper Alexander
Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law
Stanford Law School
Stanford CA 94301-8610
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