Friday, April 6, 2007

Cranking Up the Mighty Wurlitzer

As they always do when they have no facts or precedent to make their case, the right-wing noise machine has been cranking non-stop in an effort to smear Nancy Pelosi and her trip to the Middle East.

None of the sources criticizing Pelosi has mentioned the five Republican congressmen who were in the Middle East this week and who also met with the Syrian president.

To hear them tell it, Ms. Pelosi is setting up a shadow presidency and only wants to embarrass the idiot in the oval. The ABC website actually implied criminality might be charged.


I would like to refer those screaming the loudest to 1997, when two different Speakers of the House truly did usurp presidential authority:

From Digby:

In 1997, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) led a delegation to Colombia at a time when U.S. officials were trying to attach human rights conditions to U.S. security assistance programs. Hastert specifically encouraged Colombian military officials to “bypass” President Clinton and “communicate directly with Congress.”

…a congressional delegation led by Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) which met with Colombian military officials, promising to “remove conditions on assistance” and complaining about “leftist-dominated” U.S. congresses of years past that “used human rights as an excuse to aid the left in other countries.” Hastert said he would to correct this situation and expedite aid to countries allied in the war on drugs and also encouraged Colombian military officials to “bypass the U.S. executive branch and communicate directly with Congress.”

Subsequently, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Myles Frechette sent a cable complaining that Hastert’s actions had undermined his leverage with the Colombian military leadership.

In other instances, Hastert actually guided congressional staff to unilaterally reach deals with Colombian officials:

House Foreign Affairs Committee staff, at the direction of the Hastert group, would fly to Colombia, meet with the nation’s anti-narcotics police and negotiate the levels and terms of assistance, the scope of the program and the kinds of equipment that would be needed. Rarely were the U.S. diplomatic personnel in our embassy in Bogata consulted about the “U.S.” position in these negotiations, and in a number of instances they were excluded from or not even made aware of the meetings.

And from Glenn Greenwald:

This is, of course, totally different than the right-wing outrage scandal de jour:

New York Times, March 31, 1997 -- reporting on a trip to China by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one week after Vice President Al Gore's trip:

Speaking with startling bluntness on an issue so delicate that diplomats have tiptoed around it for years, Newt Gingrich said today that he had warned China's top leaders that the United States would intervene militarily if Taiwan was attacked.

As he left for Tokyo after a three-day trip to China, Mr. Gingrich said he had made it absolutely clear how the United States would respond if such a military conflict arose.

Referring to his meetings with China's leaders, Mr. Gingrich said: ''I said firmly, 'We want you to understand, we will defend Taiwan. Period.'"

He also said, ''I think that they are more aware now that we would defend Taiwan if it were militarily attacked.''

Mr. Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, delivered his message, among the most forceful ever given about Taiwan by a visiting United States official, to Wang Daohan, China's chief representative in talks with Taiwan. Mr. Gingrich said he had given the same message to President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Li Peng in Beijing last week.

Chinese leaders offered no public response to Mr. Gingrich today. But on Friday, Mr. Jiang urged him to treat the Taiwan issue with care. . . .

Asked about Mr. Gingrich's statements, a Clinton Administration official in Washington said Mr. Gingrich had received briefings about American policy toward China, but that Mr. Gingrich ''was speaking for himself'' in his conversations with Chinese leaders.

The White House issued a statement saying that the policy of the United States was to ''meet its obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act, including the maintenance of an adequate self-defense for Taiwan,'' and that the Administration would maintain its ''one-China policy, the fundamental bedrock of which is that both parties peacefully address the Taiwan issue. . . ."

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Gingrich said he had spoken with Mr. Clinton, and with Mr. Gore on several occasions, to make sure that their messages to Beijing dovetailed. At the time, he did not mention his message on Taiwan.

Several days later, Gingrich's remarks in China led to this -- New York Times, April 4, 1997:

China admonished the United States today to speak with one voice on foreign policy and accused Newt Gingrich of making ''improper'' statements on Washington's commitment to defend Taiwan from any military attack by the mainland.

The criticism was made by the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Shen Guofang, who earlier this week had expressed basic satisfaction with remarks made by Mr. Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, during a three-day visit to China.

The visit followed Vice President Al Gore's first trip to Beijing. Both men spoke on issues of contention between Washington and Beijing, but Mr. Gingrich's remarks were noteworthy for their directness and for exceeding the normal State Department formulations on American commitments to Taiwan.

China's decision to criticize Mr. Gingrich came after he traveled to Taiwan on Wednesday and met with President Lee Teng-hui.

Back then, the media treated Gingrich like he was the American Prime Minister, and his right-wing supporters had no problem with the House Speaker travelling and expressing his own foreign policy views which deviated from the Clinton administration's.

Desperate, ain’t they?

Meanwhile, I just love this bit from a Saudi paper:

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminds us of the ambitious office worker surrounded by dunderheads who can't or won't get the job done. So she rolls up her sleeves and says for all the world to hear: 'Well, it looks like I'll have to do it myself.'

This is, of course, a non-issue. Just like the military jet was a non issue. I’m not a hyper-sensitive feminist, seeing misogyny in every shadow, but there just might be an element of that in this instance.

It’s a faux scandal because they have nothing real to object to. So they crank up the slime machine and slander the most competent politician working today because she is speaking truth to power, and it is scaring power shitless.

Good for her. I just think it's terribly sad that Speaker Pelosi had to give up her time off with her large Catholic family to do the job that Condi-the-incompetent has failed miserably at lo these many months.

1 comment:

mbg said...

We e-mailed CNN the other night about their biased slant on these very issues and more, including showing no footage that we know of of turd blossom getting blasted by protesters the other night, and Lou Dobb's "barely scratching the surface" report on the War on Drugs, which could have included, but didn't, the more serious problems like the big push to get people hooked on oxy. Wonder who their advertisers incude?