Madam House Speaker Nancy Pelosi never fails to amuse me. Whether she’s chiding Republicans on their tax cuts (“They’ll take food out of the mouths of children in order to give tax cuts to the wealthiest”) or urging President Bush to stop trying to intimidate Congress with possible vetoes (“Calm down with the threats, there’s a new Congress in town”), Pelosi has a knack for getting her point across.
Behind that grandmotherly exterior there lies a gnarling Rottweiler waiting to get out and go straight for the jugular. Pursuant with her strong character, Pelosi is not deterred from acting on her convictions in the face of criticism – even if emanating from a certain somebody who shot someone in the face. Indeed, Vice President Cheney is not a big fan of Pelosi, having recently accused her of “bad behavior” for paying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a spring break visit.
Vice President Cheney would be well advised to rethink his reproach of the House speaker for two reasons. First, hell hath no fury like a Pelosi dissed. In her own words, “Anybody who’s ever dealt with me knows not to mess with me.”
Most importantly, however, Pelosi’s visit to Syria last week is in step with the Baker-Hamilton report. This is the same report, mind you, that the Bush administration has neglected and tossed in the garbage pail alongside the Constitution.
The Baker-Hamilton report was drafted by a bipartisan study group mandated by Congress to give a comprehensive assessment of the state of the war in Iraq. In addition, the report was to provide a list of recommendations for salvaging an increasingly deteriorating war effort.
The report was bleak and blunt, claiming that the on-the-ground situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating” and that President Bush’s Iraq policy is simply “not working.” One of the many recommendations made was to launch a diplomatic offensive. This would entail engaging powerful regional actors, Syria and Iran, in the negotiations over Iraq’s future.
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration sacked the Baker-Hamilton report, preferring to stick with the status quo. This is problematic, especially since midterm elections should have served Republicans as a sobering reminder that the American people are not pleased with the direction the country is taking and the manner in which the Iraq war has been conducted.
The Bush administration seems to think that militarism trumps diplomacy. Yet the peaceful resolution the British recently struck with Iran regarding seized soldiers flies in the face of such an argument. In a New York Times editorial titled, “What We Can Learn From Britain About Iran,” Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh write:
“Had the British followed the American example, once the sailors and marines were seized, they could have escalated the conflict by pursing the matter more forcefully at the United Nations or sending additional naval vessels to the area. Instead, the British tempered their rhetoric and insisted that diplomacy was the only means of resolving the conflict. The Iranians received this as pragmatism on London’s part and responded in kind.”
As one takes in President Bush’s plummeting approval rating, the midterm election results, the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, and the diplomatic successes of other countries in dealing with Iran, one has to wonder: Can the Bush administration not take a hint?
Apparently not, as was so aptly demonstrated by their admonishment of Pelosi’s visit to Syria. Luckily for us, though, Pelosi has ovaries of steel and will continue being an affront to what has long passed as being admirable resoluteness to become arrogant stubbornness.
Luci Storelli-Castro is a senior political science and philosophy major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.