The Spectacle Blog

Santorum versus Obama

By on 4.9.09 | 5:57PM

No one ever quite knows what's going to happen when former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) opens his mouth, so reading his anti-Obama rant today in the Philadelphia Inquirer was a pleasant surprise. Santorum rails against the president's nomination of an internationalist to a key government post.

Here's the top of it:

Watching President Obama apologize last week for America's arrogance - before a French audience that owes its freedom to the sacrifices of Americans - helped convince me that he has a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions. His nomination of former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh to be the State Department's top lawyer constitutes further evidence of his disdain for American values.

This seemingly obscure position in Foggy Bottom's bureaucratic maze is one of the most important in any administration, shaping foreign policy in the courts and playing a critical role in international negotiations and treaties.

Let's set aside Koh's disputed comments about the possible application of Sharia law in American jurisprudence. The pick is alarming for more fundamental reasons having to do with national sovereignty and constitutional self-governance.

What is indisputable is that Koh calls himself a "transnationalist." He believes U.S. courts "must look beyond national interest to the mutual interests of all nations in a smoothly functioning international legal regime. ..." He thinks the courts have "a central role to play in domesticating international law into U.S. law" and should "use their interpretive powers to promote the development of a global legal system."

Koh's "transnationalism" stands in contrast to good, old-fashioned notions of national sovereignty, in which our Constitution is the highest law of the land. In the traditional view, controversial matters, whatever they may be, are subject to democratic debate here. They should be resolved by the American people and their representatives, not "internationalized." What Holland or Belgium or Kenya or any other nation or coalition of nations thinks has no bearing on our exercise of executive, legislative, or judicial power.

Koh disagrees. He would decide such matters based on the views of other countries or transnational organizations - or, rather, those entities' elites.

Unsurprisingly, Koh is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, which could subject U.S. soldiers and officials to foreign criminal trials for their actions while fighting for our security. He has recommended that American lawyers work to "undermine" official American opposition to the court.

If only Koh's transnationalism ended there. [...]

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