The segment was entitled "Democratic Diplomacy: Has Pelosi Gone Too Far?", virtually answering the question by its very asking. In the set-up piece, David Gregory rolled two telling clips. The first was of VP Cheney's comments on the Rush Limbaugh show yesterday to the effect that Pelosi's statement regarding her trip was"nonsensical." The second was of former congressman Lee Hamilton, warning that if his fellow Dems box in the president on foreign policy, Americans might conclude that the Democrats have gone "too far."
Interviewing Tim Russert at 7:06 AM ET, Lauer came out guns ablazin'.
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 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?
View video here.
RUSSERT: No, they clearly wanted to distinguish themselves from the president's policies, but you have to be careful, as Congressman Hamilton suggested. One ranking Democrat, Matt, said "we have an alternative Democratic foreign policy." That is going to be very difficult to articulate and put into place when you don't control the White House. On the other hand, Speaker Pelosi issued a statement last night on behalf of the bi-partisan delegation she is leading. Her delegation includes Republican congressmen. She is saying she has done nothing wrong or inconsistent with American foreign policy.
LAUER: Well, that's their side of the story. However, if you look back at the mid-term elections, clearly some voters in this country were unhappy with the administration's foreign policy, specifically in Iraq; it's one of the reasons we think Democrats took control of Congress. But if the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi appear to be acting irresponsibly or incompetently, and let's face it, a lot of people think she messed up on this one, what's the impact for Democrats overall?
RUSSERT: It's considerable. The Democrats have always had a difficulty being competitive with the Republicans in the public voter's mind on national security and foreign policy issues. And if the people perceive missteps, it's going to create and underscore that perceptual problem of Democrats.
LAUER: And let's go back to the point you touched on a second ago. If it's seen . . . what is the bigger and longer-term issue here if a political party is seen as usurping presidential power in designing and implementing foreign policy?
RUSSERT: As we learned in 1994 Matt, when Republicans took control of Congress with the Republican revolution and the Contract With America, people voted for change. But the voters are also willing to turn that around on its head, if they believe people have gone too far. That's why this debate is so important.
Message to Speaker Pelosi: how do you know when you've put your foot in it? When David Gregory and Matt Lauer respectfully cite VP Cheney's criticism of you.Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org