Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Norquist weighs in on Iran, Syria

Call me cynical, but when I see Grover Norquist on BBC news talking about why the US should engage Iran and Syria in talks about the future of Iraq, I'm more than a little skeptical. (I looked for a link to the on-air story but failed to find one. Trust me, I saw his bearded mug on the BBC America broadcast at 11:00 PM EST on Monday night, November 13.)

Norquist was following up a report that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was urging opening a dialogue with Syria and Iran to quell the violence in Iraq and work towards a regional solution to the "crisis" in Iraq. In what amounts to a rehash of old policy for Blair, the PM said a "new partnership" with Iran was possible if Tehran assisted in the Middle East process, stopped its support for terrorism and fulfilled its obligations on nuclear non-proliferation.

"In that case, a new partnership is possible," Blair told the Lord Mayor's Banquet last night in London.

Blair will be leaving office in a matter of months, so the leaders in Syria and Iran may not be listening very intently, especially since mixed signals are now coming from Washington.

While president Bush - whose power has been somewhat neutered by the landslide Democratic victories in the midterm elections - is still promoting the soloist, isolationist policies that got the United States into the Middle East mess to begin with, James Baker, leader of the Iraq Study Group which is outlining a new policy for America in the region, has already met with Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations and is crafting a new policy for Iraq which is likely to include recommendations of troop reductions and direct talks with Syria and Iran.

The appearance of Norquist on the tube, however, is particularly alarming, indicating the seismic rifts within the administration and the Republicans. Norquist is attempting to redefine himself as a moderate after having spent the last decade helping to promote what now looks to be a failed Middle East policy.

It's important to note the the number of Republicans and neocons switching positions, such as Rush Limbaugh's "liberation" from the party that he announced last week on his nationally-syndicated radio broadcast.

Norquist, however, is a little more on the sly side than the truth-impaired Limbaugh, so we proudly pronounce him as our Prick for the Day.