Better strap yourself in for this one, sports fans, for the Washington Post ran an editorial Thursday harshly criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and the “foolish shuttle diplomacy” she exhibited on her controversial trip to Syria this week.
(UPDATE: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a press release denying giving Pelosi a "peace message" for Syria.)
Entitled “Pratfall in Damascus,” the piece pounded Pelosi early and often (emphasis added throughout):
HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad.
Shocked? Well, the Post's editorial staff was just getting warmed up. Check those seatbelts again:
After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. What's more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. "We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria," she said.
Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister's office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel." In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda.
(Update continued: The following was reported by the Jerusalem Post, emphasis added:
The Prime Minister's Office issued a rare "clarification" Wednesday that, in gentle diplomatic terms, contradicted US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's statement in Damascus that she had brought a message from Israel about a willingness to engage in peace talks.
According to the statement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert emphasized in his meeting with Pelosi on Sunday that "although Israel is interested in peace with Syria, that country continues to be part of the Axis of Evil and a force that encourages terror in the entire Middle East."
Olmert, the statement clarified, told Pelosi that Syria's sincerity about a genuine peace with Israel would be judged by its willingness to "cease its support of terror, cease its sponsoring of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, refrain from providing weapons to Hizbullah and bringing about the destabilizing of Lebanon, cease its support of terror in Iraq, and relinquish the strategic ties it is building with the extremist regime in Iran."
The statement said Olmert had not communicated to Pelosi any change in Israeli policy on Damascus.
(End of update.)
Checking that link about now to verify that this really was a Washington Post piece? Well, here was the marvelous conclusion:
"We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.
Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush's military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.
Bravo. If only more of the sycophant media would recognize how dangerous – and, conceivably un-Constitutional – Pelosi’s actions were.