CLEVELAND (TDB) -- U.S. Rep. Dennis Kuncinich deservedly caught flak last week for being at Walt Disney World in Florida on the day the Census Bureau released data saying his home city was the 4th poorest in the nation. Now he's in Syria claiming a star turn in an important meeting with dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Democratic presidential hopeful Kucinich's campaign seems to be falsely spinning the Ohioan's globe trekking this week as a significant event on the road that could help bring peace to the Middle East.
But that is is pure folly. The Ohio congressman probably should have stayed home and grilled mettwurst this Labor Day weekend with the hardworking blue collar workers of this state. By posing as a diplomat in the complex Middle East, he's way beyond his league. And his campaign has overplayed the importance of any possible encounter with Assad. At most, the is little more than a perfunctory greeting, a handshake and photo op scheduled for a travelling group from Washington during the congressional recess.
Assad is a Baath Party strongman whose nation is accused of aiding terrorists, financing anti-Israeli paramilitaries and allowing Arab insurgents to sneak across its borders to battle United States troops in Iraq. Assad is widely viewed as a hindrance and bottleneck to any kind of peace movement. He holds power by stifling opponents. Kucinich's spinners feel he can accomplish what diplomats from around the world have not: Convince Assad to moderate his regime. The Cleveland Democrat also planned to tour a refugee camp for Iraqis who have fled the war. Kucinich said he wanted to restore American prestige in the region:
"We are working to build a new reputation for America in the region. We want people to love America again. We want people to know that Amercans want peace and justice. Many American are hoping for a new role for America in the world, strength though peace. It is in that spirit that I will meet with President Assad."
Kucinich is portaying himself as a messenger of "peace and justice" from America to Assad? He ought to demand that Assad bring peace and justice to the Syrian people.