Saturday, April 7, 2007

Congress' trips to Syria

From Think Progress:
"Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes devotes 700 words to attacking Pelosi’s trip to Syria. Number of times Barnes mentions the fact that Republican members of Congress were on the ground in Syria this week? Zero. "


Lauer On Pelosi Syria Visit: ‘Let’s Face It, A Lot Of People Think She Messed Up On This One’ »
This morning, NBC’s Today Show ran a biased segment casting doubt on Pelosi’s Syria trip. Every single question asked by anchor Matt Lauer was framed around conservative talking points. In his first question, Lauer claimed Pelosi has gotten off to a rough start because of criticisms from a
baseless Washington Post editorial, Vice President Cheney, and the conservative editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal:
LAUER: Vice President Cheney called Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria “bad behavior,” a Washington Post editorial on Thursday called it “counter-productive and foolish,” and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning goes a step further and suggests her trip may actually have been a felony, that it may have violated something called the Logan Act. Tim, is this the way the Democrats wanted to get off the mark in terms of foreign affairs?
With his second question, Lauer asserted that “a lot of people think [Pelosi] messed up on this one,” and then asked “what’s the impact for the Democrats overall?” Lauer never mentioned the fact that
five Republicans — Reps. Frank Wolf, Robert Aderholt, Joseph Pitts, David Hobson, and Darrell Issa — visited Syria this week.
To wrap up the segment, Lauer suggested that Pelosi may be “seen as usurping presidential power in designing and implementing foreign policy,” disregarding Rep. David Hobson’s (R-OH) comments that the Pelosi-led delegation “
reinforced the administration’s positions.”

And from Crooks and Liars:

"Three Republican congressmen who parted with President Bush by meeting with Syrian leaders said Wednesday it is important to maintain a dialogue with a country the White House says sponsors terrorism.
"I don't care what the administration says on this. You've got to do what you think is in the best interest of your country," said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. "I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah.""

I fully understand why any President and State Department does not want Congress traipsing off to all corners of the world sending mixed messages. I also know that Congress is very frustrated by Bush's stance on negotiations with adversaries. Congress rightly, as well as virtually everyone who has looked at the issues in the middle east, feels that we need to engage diplomatically. Bush's stance has been "we will negotiate only after we have gotten most of what we want first."

The New York Times editorial page pointed out the absurdity of this stance in its op-ed section today. Can you imaging telling a business associate that you will only agree to "negotiate" once they have given you what you want first. I can imagine the associate saying something like "go take a long jump off a short Pier." That is exactly what Bush has been hearing from the Middle East. It is no wonder he is having trouble making progress in "negotiations". Perhaps he should look up the word negotiation and then begin again.

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