GOP LAWMAKERS UNDERMINE U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ABROAD…. Not too long ago, there were certain political norms, we were told, that couldn’t be ignored when it came to the foreign policy of the United States.

Throughout the Bush/Cheney years, for example, we were reminded about “politics stopping at the water’s edge.” It was considered outrageous, if not borderline treasonous, to criticize the president’s foreign policy while he was overseas. Worse, if U.S. officials were overseas themselves, they were expected to wait until they’re back on American soil before undermining the president’s foreign policy.

All of that has gone completely out the window now that there’s a Democratic president again. In June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) traveled to China, America’s biggest creditor, where he encouraged Chinese officials not to believe the U.S. government when it comes to budget issues. This week, a number of Republican members of Congress traveled to Israel to undermine the administration’s efforts on Middle East peace.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took a swipe at President Barack Obama’s Mideast policy in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling reporters he was worried about the administration’s direction in its attempts to forge a settlement in the region.

“We’re here to try and make things better; we are here because we are concerned,” Cantor said. “We are concerned about what the White House has been signaling as of late in their desire to push through in terms of a Middle East peace plan.”

Cantor’s comments leave the high-ranking Republican open to Democratic criticism for criticizing the president while on foreign soil.

There’s really no excuse for this. Put aside the question of whether you believe the president is right or wrong about the Israeli settlement issue, because in this case, that’s a secondary question.

The central issue here is whether elected officials should travel abroad to criticize and undermine the foreign policy of the American government. If Cantor and his pals want to trash the U.S. approach from the floor of the House or in a press release, that’s merely annoying. But for them to go to foreign soil and work against the sitting president is pathetic, even by the low standards of House Republicans.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.