Bloggers on Nancy Pelosi's shuttle diplomacy.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 5 2007 6:19 PM

Nancy Stew

Bloggers are arguing over Nancy Pelosi's shuttle diplomacy, counting up Barack Obama's campaing fund-raising receipts, and wondering what the heck's up on Saturn.

Nancy stew:House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Middle East tour has moved on to Saudi Arabia (leaving confusion in her wake), but bloggers are still duking it out over her foray into diplomacy with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus earlier this week.

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"Not satisfied with giving comfort to our enemies by legislating defeat in Iraq, Speaker Pelosi has decided to also provide comfort to one of the original state sponsors of terrorism and visit Syria," fumes conservative Redstate. "Pelosi fails to acknowledge that, under the constitution, the president of the United States is the unitary head of our government, particularly in matters concerning foreign affairs."

Observers on the other side of the hall point out that the White House's denunciation of Pelosi's trip this week conveniently failed to mention the three Republican House members who were in Damascus on a similar mission. Think Progress says, "Not only are the administration's attacks on Pelosi hypocritical, but the timing suggests they are a partisan hit. … Why did the White House wait until Pelosi's imminent visit to raise this issue publicly, and not make mention of the Republicans already there?"

Kagro X at DailyKos wonders, "Is it possible for the Republicans to step in it more often and more publicly than they have on this Syria trip? First it was shrieks of protest that a Democratic Member of Congress would visit Syria at all, even though Republicans were doing exactly the same. Then it was paroxysms over Pelosi wearing a head scarf. … Now it's yet another round of howling at the moon, accusing Pelosi of usurping the Pretzeldent's diplomatic prerogative (still in its original box, by the way -- very valuable), even though she's making no attempt whatsoever to circumvent The Decider in  talking to Assad."

Over at Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrisey sternly disapproves of all the globetrotting representatives. "When politicians conduct these unauthorized negotiations, it reduces the bargaining power of the President. In Nancy Pelosi's case, that's her explicit goal, because she wants to force Bush out of Iraq to deliver on campaign pledges. In the case of these loose cannons, the motivation seems to be self-aggrandizement more than anything else."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's denial today that Pelosi was delivering a conciliatory message to Assad on Israel's behalf, along with a Washington Post editorial accusing her of trying to "establish a shadow presidency," hasn't helped the speaker's shuttle-diplomacy credentials. Wizbang concludes, "This trip did accomplish something though: it showed that the foreign policy of talking to our enemies that the left hails as being superior to President Bush's is hopelessly naive and completely unsatisfactory for dealing with our enemies. Bashar al-Assad manipulated Speaker Pelosi and made her look completely ridiculous."

Read more about Speaker Pelosi's trip

It's a horserace: Barack Obama's campaign team announced Wednesday that the Illinois Democrat had raised "at least $25 million" for his presidential bid during the first quarter of 2007. That's remarkably close to the $26 million figure reported by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Democratic candidates have trounced Republicans in the presidential money hunt this year. That's a good thing for the Democrats, right? Depends on how you look at it.

Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, ever the optimist, sees the numbers as a harbinger of peace among Democrats: "Whoever they support now, I think a big majority of Democrats would be comfortable supporting any of the three members of the current top tier -- Clinton, Edwards and Obama. Is there any member of the GOP top three -- Giuliani, McCain and Romney -- who even a majority of Republicans would be comfortable supporting?" Conservative Rico J. Halo at ThatPoliticalBlog gleefullybegs to differ: "The more money the Democratic contenders raise the bloodier the Democrat primary will be. And with these kind of record numbers in campaign funds being raised it will make 300 look absolutely tame in comparison. it will be a very bloody slugfest. I hope."

But size isn't everything at this stage. Obama's totals are significant for what they say about future donations. "If Hillary is such a dominant figure in the Democratic Party … why is she not dominating the money game? What does that mean?" asks Ariana Huffington at Huffington Post. "One figure may hold a clue. Obama raised his money from 83,000 donors. Hillary raised hers from about 50,000. So Obama has many more donors and many more who have not given the maximum amount. In politics, the most reliable donors are those who have already given. So even if Hillary manages to come out on top in Round 1, as Drudge & Co. all have it, things may only get tougher in subsequent rounds."

Read more about Obama's fund raising.

Look! Up in the sky! Bloggers are scratching their heads over an astronomical phenomenon: a strange hexagonal weather formation that's been spotted on Saturn.

At SciAm Observations, the blog of Scientific American magazine, Michael Battaglia explains: "This wonderfully weird hexagonal storm recently photographed by Cassini wheeling around Saturn's north pole is not an ephemeral phenomenon … Rather, the six-sided maelstrom was first imaged in 1980 by both Voyager spacecraft -- and that's the thing about it: it's still there. Storms are not supposed to have straight sides and sharp angles -- at least not here on Earth."

Linkless Bob at Trapezoidal Inclination has a few questions: "One, how can such a large geometric structure exist in nature? Two, how come I never saw someone mention this on X-Files?" Helpful PostWatch points readers toward a possible scientific explanation.

Meanwhile, Mark Martel, commenting at TierneyLab, suggests the formation has a more practical use: "You have to look at the full system. The giant hex nut holds the ring washers in place, which in turn keep it all from slipping."

Susan Daniels is a former Slate staffer. She lives in Amsterdam.

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