Nancy Pelosi's amateurish fumble in Syria left the Washington Post less than impressed. In an editorial titled "Pratfall in Damascus," the Post doesn't stop at scolding Pelosi for demonstrating why egotistical Representatives should not insert themselves into diplomacy. It also questions her motives and accuses her of attempting to create a shadow presidency:
Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascus at a time when the administration -- rightly or wrongly -- has frozen high-level contacts with Syria. Mr. Bush said that thanks to the speaker's freelancing Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from the United States. Ms. Pelosi responded by pointing out that Republican congressmen had visited Syria without drawing presidential censure. That's true enough -- but those other congressmen didn't try to introduce a new U.S. diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. "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.
The Democrats, led by Pelosi, have tried to undermine Bush for years. Now that they have the majority in Congress, they can give full vent to their schemes. The efforts of the past couple of months show that the Democrats want to turn the Constitution upside down, strip the executive branch of its power, and make Congress the supreme power in the American system.
Well, sorry, but that's the British system. Perhaps Pelosi would be more comfortable there or in Canada, but here in the US, the elected President has all of the Constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy and command the military. That remains true even when Congress dislikes the policies in both areas. If the Democrats want a new foreign policy, then let them nominate someone who can articulate one that the American people support, and stop nominating appeasers and vacillators.
The founders understood that America has to speak with one voice abroad in order to keep our enemies from exploiting our domestic divisions and to allow our allies to rely on our consistency. Pelosi managed in her trip to screw that up for two nations, the US and Israel. She proclaimed Damascus as the "road to peace" just months after Syrian-supported terrorists attacked Israel, and while they still hold two Israeli soldiers captive. The supposedly peaceful man with whom she met probably ordered the political assassination of Rafiq Hariri and other Lebanese politicians who want a closer relationship with the West.
Pelosi's "foreign policy" apparently has no problem with these kinds of betrayals ... another reason Americans don't trust Democrats to conduct the nation's business abroad. Where is Robert Byrd and his pocket Constitution when the Democrats need them?