Shenandoah County GOP

Rasoul Running On Empty
July 21, 2008, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Congress, Election 2008, Foreign Affairs

Poor Sam Rasoul. He just can’t seem to catch a break these days. You have to give him credit–it’s not easy to run for public office, much less at the age of 26. However, I’d feel alot worse for him if it weren’t for the fact that his missteps are mostly of his own making. 

First, Rasoul sat down with a pair of Hispanic columnists from the Roanoke Times. A admirable exercise in it’s own right; the Latino community in the Valley is emerging as an important voting bloc, with many becoming involved in both parties. However, he must have known that illegal immigration, an issue that is important to voters from a variety of background, would come up and that his answer would be seen and heard outside of the Latino community. That’s why I was rather surprised to read this:

He’s also aware of the importance of the participation of this minority, the largest in the country, and rejects the use of the term “illegal immigrant”. He prefers to use “undocumented immigrant” and also knows of the contributions that Hispanics bring to the Comonwealth and the importance of their voice in the state’s political decisions.

I can certainly understand the argument that people can’t be “illegal” per-se, but Rasoul seems to want to sugarcoat the reality of the issue: entering the country without documentation or in any other fraudulent manner is a serious crime. From U.S. Code Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, Section 1325:

Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. (b) Improper time or place; civil penalties

But Mr. Rasoul and I will likely never agree on the semantics of this issue, so let’s look at his recent statements on energy policy:

While maintaining that drilling is not the long-term answer, Rasoul said Tuesday that acting where oil leases exist now would send a signal to speculators and help with the short-term price of gasoline.

“We should be placing pressure on the oil industry to go out and see what we’ve got,” Rasoul said. “Then, we need to assess the situation from there.”

It almost appears as if Sam feels that oil companies are deliberately holding out on the American people. He also seems to be ignoring that gas and oil exploration can be extremely costly, and that in this case government intervention could very well RAISE prices by leading companies to explore land in a fool’s errand. But again, this an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. You can compare Congressman Goodlatte’s policy here.

Far more disconcerting is this statement about how he sees his potential role in Congress:

“I’m applying for a job in the House of Representatives, which does not have much to do with foreign policy, that’s left up to the executive branch of government,” he said. “I hope to serve the American people.”

Now, perhaps I’m missing something here. But it seems to me that, for a topic that it supposedly doesn’t have much say on, Congress has an awfully lot of Committees devoted to the topics of foreign policy and national security, such as Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Select Committee on Intelligence (to say nothing of Appropriations).

Also, the Constitution seems to mention quite a number of Congressional powers related to foreign policy, such as the regulation of foreign commerce, defining and punishing laws relating to the high seas, establishing and maintaining the Army and Navy, and the power to declare war. While it is true that the Executive Branch is the one that primarily conducts foreign policy, that policy is funded, monitored, and regulated very closely by the executive branch.

It’s unclear if Mr. Rasoul just hasn’t educated himself on foreign policy enough to feel that he can make appropriate statements on the issue (an interesting position for someone seeking federal office) or if he just sees these issues as inconsequential compared to domestic concerns (though one would think there wouldn’t be much of a country to govern if there was a massive attack for which we were ill-prepared). For the time being, I’ll just stick with Bob Goodlatte, who may not serve on any of the committees with direct foreign policy responsibilities but still stays focused on the issues at hand, including the genocide in Darfur. 

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