Foreign Policy Blogs

Where You Sit Is Where You Stand

In 1976, Robert Jervis, quoting Ernest May, wrote this:

“General Marshall, while Chief of Staff, opposed the State Department’s idea of using aid to promote reforms in the Chinese government.  Then, when he became Secretary of State, he defended this very idea against challenges by the new chiefs of Staff.  In “1910, Winston Churchill, as Home Secretary, led the attack upon the demand of McKenna, First Lord of the Admiralty, for more ships; by 1913 they had exchanged offices and each, with equal conviction, maintained the opposite view.”  When Samuel Hoare was secretary of state for air, he strongly fought against naval control of the Fleet Air Arm; when he later served as first lord of the Admiralty he took the opposite position.  When Theophile Delcasse was the minister of colonies in France before the turn of the century, he supported an expedition to the Nile that would give France a lever to use against Britain.  As foreign secretary, he sought to recall the adventure.

Thus, this should come as no surprise:

The White House Monday said that Supreme Court nominee won’t follow her own advice from 1995 in answering questions on specific legal cases or issues, supporting Kagan’s flip flop on the issue that she first made a year ago.

Kagan wrote in 1995 that the confirmation process had become a “charade” because nominees were not answering direct questions, and said they should have to do so.

But during a briefing with reporters in the White House, Ron Klain, a top legal adviser to Vice President Joe Biden who played a key role in helping President Obama choose Kagan, said that she no longer holds this opinion.

Where you sit is where you stand.


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