The latest scandal burbling out of Washington involves a meeting between House Minority Whip (soon to be Majority Leader) Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu wherein Rep. Cantor promised to serve as a "check" on the Obama Administration's policies regarding Israel and the Middle East.
The main objection to this is that "politics stop at the water's edge", and that when it comes to foreign policy, America speaks with one voice emanating from the executive branch. Certainly, there is plenty of precedent for this belief, one aggressively trumpeted by Republicans during the Bush administration. And I suppose there is something to it -- constitutionally, control over foreign policy is delegated largely to the executive branch, and there is something deeply unseemly about an American politician tells a foreign leader that he will take his side in a clash between that county's desires and America's.
That being said, there seems to be a fiction being enacted here, which is that there are no substantive political disputes about what American interests are or what American foreign policy should be. There are no inherent American interests, only competing conceptions of what America should be interested in. And nobody is really surprised that Rep. Cantor and President Obama disagree on the question. So why shouldn't Rep. Cantor use what leverage is constitutionally delegated to the House of Representatives to try and enact his favor cluster of foreign policy priorities?
Now therein lies the rub for me: I find Rep. Cantor's intervention substantively distasteful, as I think his policy prescriptions are worse for America, worse for Palestinians, and ultimately worse for Israelis. So for that reason, I oppose what he did -- the same as I would oppose a Cantor meeting with the Chamber of Commerce where he pledged to serve as a "check" on the Obama Administration's efforts to regulate the financial industry. But the belief that domestic politics represent something fundamentally different from foreign policy -- the former a subject of legitimate democratic constestation, the latter beyond the bounds of ideological debate -- strikes me as near-entirely fictional.