Friday, March 16, 2007

Pelosi Confronts AIPAC

I looks as if I was premature in characterizing Nancy Pelosi's participation in this year's AIPAC conference as business as usual. If AIPAC had prepared a script for her, she managed to lose it on her way to the podium. In so doing she may have made history as the first prominent politician to confront AIPAC with language they did not particularly want to hear. Here is how Ari Berman reported it on his "Notion" blog for The Nation:

House Minority Leader John Boehner got a standing ovation when he voiced his continued support for the war in Iraq at AIPAC's annual conference today. When his counterpart, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, dared to criticize the war, she heard boos.
"Any US military engagement must be judged on three counts--whether it makes our country safer, our military stronger, or the region more stable," Pelosi told 5-6,000 AIPAC supporters. "The war in Iraq fails on all three scores." First came light applause, followed by catcalls and boos, The Hill reported.
Berman is still unhappy that Pelosi showed up at all:

By speaking to AIPAC, Pelosi is giving the organization legitimacy that it doesn't deserve.

I appreciate what he is saying (as my previous post indicated); but I no longer agree. Legitimacy is not the issue. AIPAC exists (and has a right to exist under our current system) whether we like it or not; and the last thing we need to do is fall back on the kind of formulaic reasoning that yields positions like not recognizing Red China (remember that one?) or not speaking with terrorists and the countries that support them. Pelosi had the opportunity to turn her invitation into a bully pulpit. She stuck to a position that had been so important in restoring Democratic control in Congress, and she did not cave in to a hostile audience. More power to her!

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