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Pelosi in Syria: a view from a Demublican
Last uploaded : Wednesday 4th Apr 2007 at 00:23
Contributed by : Carol Gould



4 April 2007

Last Friday I attended the annual Lincoln Day Dinner presented by Republicans Abroad at the Cavalry and Guards Club in London. The guest speaker was Borghese executive Georgette Mosbacher.

Being descended from a long line of died-in-the-wool Democrats I had been in two minds about attending the event until a disturbing incident two weeks ago. Just as I was sitting down to dinner in my flat my telephone rang. It was a dear American lady whom I like very much; she is a London activist in the anti-war movement, but we have other things in common. Admittedly I was in a bad mood, my blood sugar was down at sea level and I was feeling distinctly marginalised watching BBC America-bashing. She happened to say she was about to attend a major event to denounce the Bush-Blair alliance and I burst out with ‘Despite everything, I still like George Bush as a person.’ I began to say “I would rather have dinner with him and Laura than with Ken Livingstone’ when she launched into an hysterical screaming fit. It was terrifying. I tried to interject with something light but she kept screaming at me and finally I gently put the phone back on the receiver. End of friendship.

This has been the story of my life with Democrats for some years now. In 2004 I was asked by John Kerry’s sister Diana if I would go to the USA during the Presidential campaign and explain the National Health Service to small groups of Democrat supporters in my hometown, Philadelphia. At that time I was still a career filmmaker and not yet a full-time journalist. I flew to Philly and told the local Democrat office I was at their service only to be greeted by something between indifference and hostility. The next day I was in a deli with an old friend when my cellphone rang and it was Jim, a senior executive with the Kerry campaign headquarters in Boston.

If I had been Patrick Buchanan this Kerry man could not have been more venomous. Jim shouted at me that I had a nerve thinking ‘people would stop everything to accommodate somebody at the bottom of the celebrity register.’ I left the deli and went outside, ( his bellowing could be heard by my lunch companion ) and politely said I did not think I was even ON a celebrity register. I reminded him that Diana Kerry had asked me to volunteer in Philadelphia to talk about universal health care, or socialised medicine. It is unbelievable but true that he then launched into a tirade at me to the effect that if I so much as mentioned the national health service I would be thrown off the campaign and even tossed out of the Democratic Party.

Afterwards I told my sister about this - she a Kerry campaigner -- and she said she would not blame me for calling Bush headquarters and seeing if they might be a bit nicer to me.

This brings me to ‘ how to win friends and influence people.’ At the Lincoln Dinner last Friday night Georgette Mosbacher offered an amusing observation: 'If you want to clear a room fast in Manhattan say you are a Republican.' ( I would add, 'If you want to clear a room fast in London say you are an American.' ) Mrs Mosbacher urged the assembled expatriate Republicans to 'stop apologising' and to take heart after the November 2006 defeat in the midterm Congressional elections.

Well, if the Democrats want to self-immolate fast then keep letting Nancy Pelosi go to places like Syria. When I heard about her trip at the end of March I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. It is bad enough that I found it hard going trying to convince even right-wingers in Washington that the West has a serious problem with Iran, Syria and their followers in Europe and the UK. Talking to Democrats and even to the Jewish community was an ordeal; many had become adoring followers of George Galloway because he had picked on Republican Sen. Colman and others were obsessed with the danger of the Christian Right. Their eyes glazed over when I mentioned the real threat from Syria, Iran and the Jihadists of Londonistan. So, what does the House Speaker hope to accomplish by ingratiating herself with a regime that has been linked to Hezbollah?

The issue of the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 is yet to be resolved and despite the lisping elegance of Syrian President -- or dictator, depending on whether one watches Fox or the BBC -- Assad about Syria‘s innocence in that little matter, the malevolence of the regime is palpable. When I was in Israel in 1996 a tough former tank commander told me that the only country that put abject fear into his heart was Syria. At that time, Assad Pere was in power and Warren Christopher was engaging in shuttle diplomacy, grovelling and being kept waiting for hours at a time for an audience with the Syrian despot. During one tense week after Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 Israel held its breath as we all expected biological warheads to plummet down upon the tiny Jewish State at any moment.

Now, eleven years later, another American goes to grovel at the feet of the Syrian leadership. It is believed by many that Syria and Iran harbour, train, equip and send forth into Iraq the most lethal of the suicide squads who attack British, American and other coalition forces. Why did Nancy Pelosi feel it necessary to visit one of the hubs of extremism in the Middle East?

A friend suggested that Pelosi was actually sent by President Bush himself and that his outward displeasure was a ruse. This was reinforced when the Israeli media reported that Pelosi, who got a standing ovation from the Knesset, was carrying a message of peace to Assad from Ehud Olmert. My inclination is that this was a full-blooded effort by the Democratic Party’s ‘Carter wing’ to show the Syrians that it deplores the way they are demonised and that the Assad dynasty is not part of an Axis of Evil. Yes, her delegation includes a Republican Congressman, David Hobson of Ohio, and Holocaust survivor Congressman Tom Lantos, which is admirable, but those in this world who feel Syria has yet to prove itself a partner in peace see this adventure as a foolhardy mission that embarrasses and alienates the ‘Reagan Democrat’ wing of the party.

As a journalist one is not meant to take political sides or aid a party, but I am still a citizen and voter, and the abrasive stupidity of the Democrats who have verbally demolished me in recent years suggests a chaos and instability that does not exactly instil confidence in voters. Those who are not quite Reagan Democrats but Henry Jackson conservatives will run to the Republicans with their money and energies if they are treated like pariahs by campaign executives as I was by Jim in Kerry headquarters. It is also a fact that Rudy Giuliani took a tough stand long ago with Yasser Arafat and with the Saudis who visited New York after September 11, 2001. More recently Mayor Bloomberg is to be commended for refusing to meet with London Mayor Livingstone because of his comments about a Jewish reporter behaving like a concentration camp guard. Such grit, and indeed that of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, is missing in the humourless, childishly angry and misguided Democratic Party.

By the same token the Republicans, as Mrs Mosbacher said last Friday, should accept that 'accountability' is now required by a majority of the American electorate. Nothing could have been more grotesque than seeing White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove doing a 'rap' turn at the White House Press Dinner last week, when in fact he is regarded by many as one of the Administration culprits in the outing of loyal CIA agent Valerie Plame. Her exposure was a despicable act and should be condemned by all Republicans.

Back to Nancy in Syria: lest we forget one of many examples of Syrian charitable acts:

Quoted in the Official Gazette of Syria, July 11, 1974, Syrian Minster of Defence Mustafa Tlab told the National Assembly in December 1973 that in the Yom Kippur War a recruit form Aleppo had participated in the slaughter of twenty-eight Jewish soldiers, some butchered and decapitated, others having had their necks cracked with an ax. The recruit ’devoured their flesh’ and, he said, should be given the National Medal of the Republic.

Perhaps a small measure of good will come from the Pelosi visit but to many ‘Demublicans’ this is an ill-advised trip that gives the impression that the majority party naively condones the chillingly dark side of the Assad regime. Mark this: it will not help the fortunes of the Democratic Party if awhile down the line Syria is proven to be the state instigator of an horrific atrocity, and images of Pelosi schmoozing the supporters of Hezbollah are still fresh in the minds of voters.

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