These people have one hell of a nerve. The Bush White House, who we all know are incapable of doing anything right in Iraq, and who have delayed announcing an Iraq plan until January, have resorted to the only thing they know how to do: cutting down people who actually are up for getting to work on solving the downward spiraling mess in the Middle East. Tony Snow thinks John Kerry, Christopher Dodd, and Bill Nelson are the problem in the Middle East, when we know damned well who botched this war so badly that our best case scenario is for it not to explode into a regional war.
I really had hope after the 2006 election. Hope that the Bush White House would actually get that their Iraq War had been wholesale rejected, and it was time for diplomacy to start and our troops to come home. I was further heartened when James Baker's Iraq Study Group came out with a bipartisan report that certainly was a repudiation of Bush's Iraq policy and was moving in the direction of the Kerry/Feingold Amendment, even if it fell a few steps short of it. What piqued my interest even more was the Time magazine cover story about the Iraq Study Group with this paragraph:
THE HOT WORD IN WASHINGTON THESE days is bandwidth, as in, Does this Administration have the bandwidth to solve all these problems? Even those who back the Baker plan worry about whether there is anyone inside the Administration who can carry it out. There is widespread doubt that the Bush team is emotionally or ideologically able to execute a plan that is so at odds with its collective instincts and that many of its supporters might resist. Of particular concern to members of the study group is the state of the U.S. State Department. Although Rice has restored some of the department's lost influence since replacing Colin Powell, she is currently working without a deputy and has had trouble filling that post. Her top lawyer, Philip Zelikow, is leaving soon, and there is a wide variety of people who wonder whether she--or anyone else--could amass the clout to take on both the Middle East and Iraq security talks in the time that is left to this Administration. That's one reason there are growing calls for a special envoy to the region who can hold all the reins in one hand. Some have even suggested that Bush try to persuade Baker to stay on and take up one last mission for his country.
John Kerry was one of the first Democrats to reach out to Condi Rice and ask how he could help. Many other Democrats and moderate Republicans did as well. I thought it was a perfect storm for renewed diplomacy and bipartisanship in foreign policy since Jim Baker (who equals W's Dad) was on board. But, of course, I was dead wrong. That's because we have a person in the White House who is still acting out a rebellion against his Dad at the detriment of the entire country. Here is our "Boy King" at work, stomping his feet and screaming "no, no, no" at our Senate Democrats, i.e. the grown-ups, who are beginning the ground work of diplomacy with Syria:
The White House said Thursday that trips to Syria by U.S. lawmakers are a public relations victory for a government that is thwarting democratic reform in the Middle East.
The Bush administration has tried to discourage lawmakers from going to Syria, White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "We think it's inappropriate."
Thwarting democratic reform? They're still holding onto the idea that Iraq is the democratic reform they want to spread around the Middle East? Delusional doesn't begin to describe their divorce from reality. Christopher Dodd and John Kerry, who are members of the Foreign Relations Committee, weren't going to let this stand, and answered back swiftly:
Taking issue with the White House, Dodd said in a statement that members of Congress "need to go to hotspots not just garden spots. I can't think of a more critical part of the world than the Middle East and I can't think of a more critical player in affecting events in the region for good or for bad than Syria."
Kerry spokesman David Wade said the senators were engaged in fact finding, not negotiating. "If Ronald Reagan could talk to the `evil empire,' surely United States senators with a responsibility to American troops can visit Syria," Wade said, referring to Reagan's description of the former Soviet Union.
Glad to hear we have some real leaders looking after our country's best interests. Later, Senator Kerry, took it a step further, and blasted the White House for their continued stubborness on diplomacy:
Kerry called the refusal to talk to Syria and Iran "a mistake. I think it's the kind of policy that's got us into trouble (sic) and it needs to change."
The former Democratic presidential candidate underlined that he was not engaging in negotiations with Damascus. "Talking to somebody is not rewarding their behavior. I have no illusions about our differences with these countries ... and nothing in the discussion is based on trust," said. "But you cannot get to (action and verifiability) without setting up the modalities. So you have to engage in some dialogue."
"Now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, we have an even larger responsibility to set a direction ... as a counterbalance to policies that have gotten us into trouble," he said.
Got that straight, Mr. Bush? It ends up the 2006 elections do mean something: the legislative branch has just gotten its power back, and it intends to use it.