Good for the Goose but Not the Gander?

Last week, Matt Cunningham made a comment in one of our posts here on Nancy Pelosi’s burqua-wearing trip to Syria. Over at the Flash Report, Jon Fleischman made a derogatory comment about the Speaker when she made the trip, surmising that the nation’s foreign policy is dictated by the president.

Unless there’s a Democrat in the White House. Back in 1997, Speaker Dennis Hastert made a trip to Columbia and told the Columbian government to bypass Clinton and work directly with Congress.

This is known in parental circles as “do as I say, not as I do.”

Here’s the story, courtesy of Think Progress:

Hastert Traveled Abroad, Told Foreign Leaders Not To Listen To Clinton

hastert.jpgPresident Bush yesterday said Speaker Pelosi’s bipartisan delegation to Syria sends “mixed signals,” implying that Pelosi overstepped her bounds by merely visiting Syria.

Bush’s supporters have been repeating the argument:

Former ambassador John Bolton: “I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Former Gov. Mitt Romney: “It has long been the established principle of this country that the president of the United States leads our foreign policy. And if you don’t like the president, then you change him. But you don’t have the two parties each conducting foreign policy in the way they think it ought to be conducted.”

Speaker Pelosi has done nothing to suggest that she intended to speak on behalf of President Bush or the U.S. Government. But her predecessors haven’t been so respectful.

In 1997, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) led a delegation to Colombia at a time when U.S. officials were trying to attach human rights conditions to U.S. security assistance programs. Hastert specifically encouraged Colombian military officials to “bypass” President Clinton and “communicate directly with Congress.”

…a congressional delegation led by Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) which met with Colombian military officials, promising to “remove conditions on assistance” and complaining about “leftist-dominated” U.S. congresses of years past that “used human rights as an excuse to aid the left in other countries.” Hastert said he would to correct this situation and expedite aid to countries allied in the war on drugs and also encouraged Colombian military officials to “bypass the U.S. executive branch and communicate directly with Congress.”

Subsequently, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Myles Frechette sent a cable complaining that Hastert’s actions had undermined his leverage with the Colombian military leadership.

In other instances, Hastert actually guided congressional staff to unilaterally reach deals with Colombian officials:

House Foreign Affairs Committee staff, at the direction of the Hastert group, would fly to Colombia, meet with the nation’s anti-narcotics police and negotiate the levels and terms of assistance, the scope of the program and the kinds of equipment that would be needed. Rarely were the U.S. diplomatic personnel in our embassy in Bogata consulted about the “U.S.” position in these negotiations, and in a number of instances they were excluded from or not even made aware of the meetings.

If the right is looking for members of Congress clearly infringing on the president’s constitutional prerogatives, they should look at Hastert, not Pelosi.

  6 comments for “Good for the Goose but Not the Gander?

  1. June 6, 2007 at 11:28 am

    This is known in parental circles as “do as I say, not as I do.”

    That’s some “gotcha” you excavated there, Dan. Trying to paint me as a hypocrite for not condemning a 10-year old incident I knew nothing about.

    You have a future in Democratic campaign communications.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    June 6, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Get used to it; your side plays this game with us all the time. I don’t think you’re a hypocrite. And I’;m sure you didn’t know about this. But I found it while reading comments from Republicans critical of Clinton’s handling of Bosnia and calling for timetables etc…oy know, they same guys who tell us we can’t use a tiemtable for Iraq. Food for thought….

  3. June 6, 2007 at 12:19 pm


    Yes, you need to learn more political history (and so do I). Ten years is not so long ago. This is similar to what Jim Bieber was doing when he was commenting on terrorists from this century (which is only seven years old).
    This is why I haven’t been blogging much. I need to learn about the issues more before I open my mouth.

  4. June 6, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Get used to it; your side plays this game with us all the time.

    “My side”? Should I start holding you accountable for every utterance and action by every left-wing politician in the country?

    In parental circles, we tell our children who use the “everyone else is doing it” excuse is not an excuse.

    Ten years is not so long ago.

    No, Gary, it isn’t. But I don’t remember everything Hastert — or any other politicians for that matter — did or said in 1997. Trying to exhume this incident and use it to try and zap me and excuse Pelosi is just weeeeaaaak.

  5. June 6, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I don’t think Dan was trying to excuse Pelosi. He’s just pointing out the apparent hypocrisy of going after Pelosi but not saying anything about Hastert. You have an excuse: ignorance. You can correct this by posting that perhaps neither Pelosi *nor* Hastert should have undergone those trips. However, Pelosi, at least not publicly, unlike Hastert has not said that she speaks for the US. So, perhaps you should come down on Hastert a bit tougher.
    Bolton and Romney don’t have the excuse of ignorance. They’ve been involved in politics for too long. What they said *was* hypocritical.

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    June 6, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Matt – you’re a Republican and a conservative. If you ever listen to Sean Hannity’s program, he plays “gotcha” with Dems on a regular basis.

    I actually have far greater problems with other things Hastert did as speaker, but I just wanted to call attention to this incident because you made the comment about Pelosi and Jon really went after her on Flash Report when she went to Syria.

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