Are we experiencing a constitutional crisis?
By Frank Salvato
I have been disappointed to hear that some of the radio personalities and editorialists who usually present a modicum of reason to the American public are having a hard time finding anything wrong with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's recent attempt at promoting rogue foreign policy in the Middle East. To be sure, our Constitution does not vest any member of Congress – speaker or otherwise – with the power to usurp the authority of the Executive Branch where conducting foreign policy is concerned.
This isn't to say that Congress doesn't have any authority over the formulation of US foreign policy, it certainly does. Article 2, Section 8 clearly states that Congress shall have the power:
"…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;…"
Further, in Article 3, Section 2 it clearly states that by their "advice and consent" they authorize the President of the United States:
"…To make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law;…"
In other words, Congress has the authority to regulate business between the United States and foreign nations, to declare war and regulate the spoils of war and to validate and make official any treaties negotiated through the Executive Branch. Article 3, not Congress, empowers the Executive Branch with the ability to appoint ambassadors, ministers, counsels, Supreme Court Justices and all other officers including official representatives of the United States. In essence, Congress has the limited power to legislate the general character and policies comprising American foreign policy.
Missing from this list of permitted functions is the power to directly engage in the business of foreign relations; to enter into official relations with foreign heads of state. For this alone, we should have a huge problem, not with just the recent diplomatic transgressions of Nancy Pelosi, but with each and every member of Congress – Democrat and Republican – who has taken it upon themselves to represent the United States in activities that engage foreign leaders.
Fact finding missions are one thing. Engaging in rogue diplomacy is quite another.
The United States Secretary of State is – for better or worse – Condoleezza Rice. Secretary Rice was appointed by President Bush – pursuant to the authority vested in him by Article 3, Section 2 of the US Constitution – and confirmed by the Senate pursuant to the same constitutional authority. The appointment and confirmation of Secretary Rice establishes her as the face of US foreign policy. It is through this office – a presidential cabinet-level position falling under the authority of the Executive Branch – which American foreign affairs are to be conducted as mandated by the United States Constitution.
Former Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a Democrat from Washington State, was quick to say, "In matters of national security, the best politics is no politics." Those who knew him best understood him to believe that there was no place for partisanship or a lack of cohesiveness in matters of foreign relations and national security. Of course, Sen. Jackson was an "old school" Democrat, a Democrat that looked down upon anarchy in government.
There is a very good reason why American foreign policy falls under the authority of the Executive Branch. It is the very same reason the president is the sole commander of our nation's military. Where Nancy Pelosi was elected to office by the people who reside within her legislative district and then summarily elected to the position of Speaker of the House by her political brethren, courtesy of their victory in November 2006 (thanks once again conservative protest voters), President Bush was elected by the whole of the American people. Nancy Pelosi was elected to serve her constituency in Washington DC and the President was elected to serve the whole of the American people here in the United States and around the world.
What Congresswoman Pelosi, Senator Jay Rockefeller and the rest of those from Congress have done by narcissistically taking US foreign policy into their own hands is to not only overstep the constitutional authority of their elected offices, not only to have usurped the constitutional authority of the Executive Branch, they attempted to create a shadow government, they have created a constitutional crisis.
The American Fifth Column – of which Pelosi and Rockefeller are most certainly a part – is no stranger to institutionalizing alternative ideologically; they are quite familiar with operating from outside the precepts of the Constitution. Their politically correct bullying tactics have seen them: legislate hate crime to the point of ignoring our guaranteed right to free speech, commandeer private property for other private ventures under the guise of "the common good," and continually abscond with taxpayer generated revenue for a never-ending series of entitlement programs in an attempt to replace personal responsibility and initiative with a "Nanny State." That they would attempt to manufacture an alternative initiative to affect foreign policy – especially in light of their unbridled hatred for the current administration – shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Some have alluded to the notion – as have the aforementioned radio personalities and editorialists – that if something good can come out of Pelosi's efforts the end would justify the means. I have stated unequivocally that I believe it to be in the best interests of United States to engage even our enemies at the crossroads of communication – if for nothing else than to make the tool of intelligence gathering and the deployment of misinformation more potent. But presenting a fractured, politically partisan face to foreign leaders – friend and especially foe – in the execution of our foreign policy can only result in disaster.
Nancy Pelosi's rogue foreign policy initiative has served to legitimize the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Syria is a recognized State sponsor of terrorism, their unarguable support for Hezbollah in Lebanon serving as proof. All Speaker Pelosi achieved during her attempted coup at the State Department was to tell terrorists around the world that we do indeed negotiate with terrorists. All Pelosi has done is to weaken the US at the negotiating table, diminishing our ability to negotiate from a position of strength.
The fact that Pelosi entered into talks with the president of a designated State sponsor of terror calls into question whether there shouldn't be an investigation into whether any laws have been broken. As we are in a war against terrorism and as Pelosi sought to engage Assad's cooperation and by doing so aided and elevated his status on the world stage, treason comes to mind.
Elected officials in the House of Representatives who are still of their right mind – and who can still manage to locate their integrity – have no alternative but to pursue disciplinary action against Speaker Pelosi for violating her oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Anything less is a dereliction of duty. Anything less is an affront to the Constitution.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. His organization, Basics Project, is partnered in producing the first-ever national symposium series on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.