Before Nancy Pelosi left Israel to travel to Syria earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokeswoman Miri Eisin said “Pelosi is conveying that Israel is willing to talk if they (Syria) would openly take steps to stop supporting terrorism.” Pelosi delivered as requested, and this week received a thank you call from Olmert. So why then did the Israeli Prime Minister originally issue a statement of “clarification” about Pelosi’s message which became the basis for right-wing attacks against her?
The evidence of White House involvement behind the Israeli Prime Minister’s statement has been growing this past week. Middle East analysts have suggested Bush deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams — a close ally of Dick Cheney — may have been coordinating the attempts to undermine Pelosi’s trip. “‘It’s obvious the White House is desperate to find some phony criticism of the speaker’s trip, even though it was a bipartisan trip,’ said Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), a Holocaust survivor who is considered the Democrat closest to the pro-Israel lobby. ‘I have nothing but contempt and disdain for the attempt to undermine this trip.’”
Rep. Henry Waxman suggested that the White House’s coordinated attempts to smear Pelosi were part of an effort to undermine her on Iraq:
Waxman said the administration is focused on building a case against the Democrats in preparation for a showdown over the Iraq War funding bill. The more they can paint Democrats as weak and irresponsible, the more likely the Democrats will knuckle under and let the president continue the war unchecked. It’s been known to happen.
So Cheney trashes the reputation of men like Lantos and Waxman (who, by the way, has doggedly pursued waste and mismanagement in Iraq by Halliburton, the company that made Cheney rich), and it’s politics as usual.
This is not unchartered territory for Cheney. He has become famous for kneecapping people with whom he disagrees, even individuals within the administration. Middle East experts recalled Cheney’s involvement in a similar situation last year:
Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked Olmert into a 48-hour cease-fire during the war with Hezbollah to allow humanitarian relief, but within hours Israeli planes were bombing again, to Rice’s surprise and anger. Olmert had received a call, apparently from Cheney’s office, telling him to ignore Rice.
The Cheney campaign against Pelosi hasn’t let up. This week, the Washington Post editorial board — which has helped drive the Pelosi smear campaign from the beginning — published an attack piece from Liz Cheney, the daughter of the Vice President.