Republicans, including some of the party’s presidential candidates, have been hammering U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for going to Syria, but one of Iowa’s rookie congressmen defends the trip. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, was a political science professor before his election to the House.
Loebsack says Pelosi’s visit has been "mischaracterized" by Republicans. He says Pelosi’s getting a bum rap because Speakers of the House from both parties have regularly visit with the heads of state of other countries.
"The bottom line is that she is not negotiating with the Syrian government," Loebsack says. Loebsack also points out that there were other congressman — Republicans — who visited Syria just before Pelosi did and the White House hasn’t trashed them for doing so.
"We Democrats are in control of the House and the Senate and it’s a different day in Washington, D.C. It’s a different time. No longer is the congress just rolling over and playing dead. We now are offering alternatives to President Bush," Loebsack says. "I think it’s difficult for him to accept that."
On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney again criticized Pelosi for going to Syria, saying the U.S. doesn’t need "535 Secretaries of State" — a reference to the number of members of the U.S. House and Senate. Cheney says the Syrian government bankrolls terrorists, and Pelosi had no business going there.