When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria to visit President Bashar al-Assad last spring, the right wing immediately excoriated her diplomatic efforts.
President Bush said the trip “sends mixed signals” to the Assad government, and Dana Perino called the trip “a really bad idea.” Vice President Dick Cheney said Assad’s “bad behavior’s being rewarded.” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) viciously accused Democrats of being “so drunk with grandiose visions of deposing Bush that they break bread with terrorists and enemies of the United States.”
The media picked up the conservative talking points and ran with them:
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux: “Why should the Americans, or even the international community, see this any more as a political stunt here, a publicity stunt, a big wet kiss to President Al-Assad?”
Washington Post Editorial Board: “Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.”
Thomas Sowell of the Baltimore Sun: “All that Ms. Pelosi’s trip can accomplish is to advertise American disunity to a terrorist-sponsoring nation in the Middle East while we are in a war there.”
NBC’s Matt Lauer: “But if the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi appear to be acting irresponsibly or incompetently — and let’s face it, a lot of people think she messed up on this one — what’s the impact for Democrats overall?”
Now that the Bush administration has come to its senses and invited Syria to become part of the solution in the Middle East, the media has missed the administration’s reversal, instead praising Bush’s “victory” in securing Syria’s attendance:
New York Times: “Syria announced Sunday that it would attend the Middle East peace meeting beginning here Monday night, joining Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab League participants in a turnabout that represented a victory for the Bush administration.”
The Denver Post: “Victory for U.S.: Syria to attend summit.”
The AP’s Amy Teibel: “The Bush administration was able to declare a clean sweep when Syria, the last Arab world holdout, said Sunday it would attend this week’s high-stakes Mideast peace conference.”
The Wall Street Journal: “The Bush administration is even courting a long-time pariah, Syria. … Talks with Syria could go some way in weakening Tehran’s strongest alliance in the region.”
The AP’s Sam Ghattas: “The Syrian participation is already seen in Washington as a success for the Bush administration.”
With the exception of a right-wing editorial in the Wall Street Journal attacking the Bush administration, not a single media outlet appears to have noticed that only six months ago, they — and the White House — were imprudently ripping the Speaker for reaching out to Syria.