Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pelosi Challenges White House: If I Gave Syria The Wrong Message, Prove It

Conservatives and media figures continue to claim, without evidence, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivered an incorrect message from Israel to Syria during her meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Pelosi insists that Israel's message was communicated accurately, and has suggested a good way to prove it:

Pelosi spokesman Brendan) Daly pointed out that Pelosi was briefed by State Department officials before her meetings with the foreign leaders and that State Department officials also attended her meetings.

So if Pelosi really committed foreign policy flubs of the first order, the State Department is in a position to confirm as much.

The White House certainly received a read-out of what exactly Pelosi and the foreign leaders said in their meetings. Significantly, the White House has not openly accused Pelosi of the foreign-policy missteps the Post had accused her of.

In an e-mail follow-up, Daly wrote: "WH has not said that because in fact the Speaker did not get the message wrong — she included the necessary caveats and did not say or imply that this was a change in Israel's position."

Indeed, despite President Bush’s claim that Pelosi's trip sent "mixed signals," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said during his briefing today, "I don't think (the tri) necessarily complicates anything that we’re doing." More

Joe Conason: To Damascus with Nancy Pelosi - Why the Neocons are Apoplectic

With her brief visit to Syria, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has provoked an outburst of flaming hysteria from the Bush administration, as well as from the neoconservatives who fashioned its ruinous war and failed foreign policies. The screaming critics of the speaker charge her with undermining presidential power, freelancing Mideast diplomacy, appeasing a terrorist regime and even surrendering to Islamist radicalism by donning a head scarf. By merely meeting with Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, Pelosi supposedly proved that she was eager to promote irresponsible partisanship at the cost of national unity and constitutional order.

In the New York Post she was accused of "making a date with
a terrorist." On the NewsMax site she was portrayed as "appeasing dictators in
the Middle East." In the Washington Post she was ridiculed for attempting to
mount a "shadow presidency." And on CNN, she was mocked for planting a "big wet
kiss" on Assad as a "publicity stunt."

Yet those furious complaints were all false and, more important, beside the point. The problem is not what Pelosi did or said, but how she exposed the exhaustion of neoconservative policy.

As most of her critics surely know, there is nothing outrageous or even unusual about a meeting between a foreign head of state and a member of Congress. Indeed, she was preceded on the road to Damascus by Rep. Frank Wolf, a prominent Virginia Republican who led a GOP delegation to meet with Assad, and she was soon followed by Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican whose remarks after seeing the Syrian leader were sharply critical of the Bush White House. More

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