Nancy Pelosi is playing to her natural constituency. Jimmy Carter, the distinguished peanut farmer, and Bashar al-Assad, the murderous dictator of the terrorist government in Damascus, are thrilled. Nearly everybody else sees a lady too big for her pantyhose.
"I was glad she went," said Mr. Jimmy. (Can it possibly be true that this man was once president of the United States?) "When there is a crisis, the best way to help resolve the crisis is to deal with the people who are instrumental to the problem."
The minister of the Syrian Cabinet was even more thrilled, perhaps because he smokes something weirder than you can find even in San Francisco. "Syria stands for freedom and for peace, and so does Nancy Pelosi."
By the time she got to Saudi Arabia, where a good woman is worth almost as much as a sheep or a goat, her hosts were close to rapture. They let her sit in the speaker's chair at the king's advisory council, where only men were previously allowed. She was particularly pleased that the Saudis didn't stuff her into an abaya, the tentlike black cloak required of Saudi women, and she could wear her pistachio -colored pantsuit.
"Nice view from here," she said. One of the sheiks shot her a glance that suggested that he thought his view was nice, too, as if she still looked young enough and muscular enough to do the heavy lifting around the house.
Another sheik, perhaps a sheik aspiring to be a television reporter, looked at her sitting where a Saudi woman would pay with her life for sitting and asked, "How does it feel?" Nancy couldn't resist taking a shot at her own country with the moral equivalence that a San Francisco Democrat sips with his afternoon chablis. "I am very pleased that after 200-plus years in the United States we finally have a woman speaker. It took us a long time."
Someone else asked about her conversation with King Abdullah, and Nancy went all jiggly inside. "Our discussion with his majesty centered around his initiative." She quickly added that she was talking about "the Saudi initiative for peace in the Middle East."
What she was talking about was the king's sneer earlier in the week that the work of the coalition in Iraq is nothing more than "an illegitimate foreign occupation." She certainly hadn't brought that up. She was more sympathetic to the king's suggestion that if Israel will quietly commit suicide peace will break out across Arabia. The king's "blueprint for peace" offers Israel "normal relations" if it withdraws from "all Arab land" lost in 1967 when the Israelis made quick work of the massed Arab armies in only six days, resettles the Palestinian refugees in Israeli territory and creates a Palestinian state. There wouldn't be much left of Israel, which is precisely the point of the royal scheme.
"There's a lot of negotiation that must follow," Nancy Pelosi told her awed Saudi hosts, "but we commended him for his leadership on that subject."
Mrs. Pelosi is no doubt a loyal American, as she understands loyalty, but she neither understands nor appreciates the civics lessons she should have been paying attention to in junior high school. The president, Republican or Democrat, and not Congress, conducts foreign policy.
Not only did she demonstrate gross incompetence in pursuit of destructive ignorance, she made more than a little mischief when she told the Syrian despot that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave her the message to take to Damascus that "Israel is ready to resume the peace process." So mischievous was this lethal fiction that the prime minister issued a rare "clarification." What he had actually told her, he said, was that Israel is always interested in peace but Syria "continues to be part of the Axis of Evil and a force that encourages terror in the entire Middle East."
Maybe the lady, tramping in unfamiliar territory, was jet-lagged. Maybe she was having bad hair days. But maybe she figured that anyone who hates George W. Bush as much as she does can't be bad. She recklessly imagined herself a wise man, traveling the Damascus road in search of an epiphany, and revealed herself to be a dizzy dame playing out of her league.