Pelosi to Syria?
Nancy Pelosi has my respect for many accomplishments. I think she was an excellent minority leader, overcoming any concerns that her politics or those of the district she represents were too liberal for her to be an effective national leader.
She kept her caucus together, and I think this played a major role in outcome of the 2006 elections. She did an admirable job of leading the Democrats to their first majority in over a decade, and has been off to a great start in helping them re-learn how to handle that power.
The Democratic House achieved an impressive first hundred days and Pelosi is rightfully proud. I think she has also done well to avoid the temptation of overreach thus far, but her proposed trip to Syria is a mistake:
The White House has criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plans to stop in Syria next week during a Middle East trip that began Friday.
She will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since relations deteriorated between Damascus and Washington.
The United States has accused Syria of aiding the Sunni insurgency in western Iraq with weapons and fighters. Syria also is accused of supporting the militant extremist groups Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and militia, and Hamas.
"We do not encourage and, in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria," said White House deputy spokeswoman Dana Perino. "This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror, one that is trying to disrupt the (Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora government in Lebanon and one that is allowing foreign fighters to flow through its borders to Iraq.
It gives me no pleasure to takes sides with an administration whose absolute refusal to talk to Syria and Iran has borne no fruit, and may in fact have exacerbated the violence in Israel, Lebanon and Iraq. But disagree though I might with this approach, and with the administration view of the unquestionable power of the executive, I do think high-level diplomacy is the prerogative of the President.
I have no patience for those who think vehement domestic dissent from administration policies (even foreign or military policies) is unpatriotic or treasonous. But this is not a few congressmen on a fact-finding mission. I think a line is crossed when the Speaker of the House, who might be viewed as equivalent to the leader of the opposition or the head of parliament, opens diplomatic channels which the President has chosen, for better or worse, to keep closed.