But has Ford’s presence in Syria, particularly since the pro-democracy movement began, been particularly rewarding for Assad and his regime? Yesterday, a pro-government group tried to attack Ford and his American delegation as they traveled to a meeting with an opposition leader. A State Department spokesperson said, “The mob was violent” and “seriously” damaged the delegation’s vehicles.
Indeed, the incident indicates the level at which Ford has become a thorn in the Assad regime’s side. He has defied travel bans to meet with opposition leaders throughout Syria, made unannounced trips to Syrian cities that have been hotbeds of unrest, and even attended the funeral of a “high-profile” Syrian human rights activist who died in custody (see video of Ford’s appearance here. Syrian security forces attacked the funeral shortly after the ambassador departed). Ford regularly takes his on-the-ground experiences in Syria to Facebook where he lashes out at the regime for its violent crackdown on protesters (he wrote today about yesterday’s attack).
Referring to Ford as America’s “am-badass-ador” in Syria last night on MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow wondered what the Senate Republicans are waiting for:
MADDOW: After all this guy’s been through, after all this guy has done, after everything he’s doing in Syria — Republicans in the United States Senate have not been able to bring themselves to allow him to be confirmed. Seriously? No, really? Seriously? Come on!
Watch the clip:
But apparently, some Senate Republicans still find Ford’s activity in Syria rewarding to Assad. An aide to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the senator who placed the hold on Ford’s confirmation last year, said that he still “continues to stand by the concerns” he had then about sending an ambassador to Damascus. Coburn’s office has ignored repeated inquiries into whether he plans to again place a hold on Ford given that his confirmation now has widespread conservative support. “You could potentially anticipate a number of senators putting holds on Ford,” a GOP Senate aide said earlier this month.
Ford himself urged the Senate to confirm. “Lower level diplomats are great, but they don’t carry the weight, they don’t carry the prestige of the president’s personal representative,” he said last week. “I think we owe it to [Syrians] to remain supportive and it try to build that support wisely, carefully but to build that support,” Ford said in his Senate hearing last month.