Talking to the Syrians? It's bad for America:
The White House said Thursday that Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's trip to Syria was not only inappropriate, but that it gave undue legitimacy to a government that is thwarting democratic reform in the Middle East.
... White House press secretary Tony Snow said the trip by Nelson, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, and future visits to Syria expected by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., send an unhelpful, mixed message to the Syrians.
..."The point is that even lending a further specter of legitimacy to that government undermines the cause of democracy in the region," Snow said about Nelson's trip....
...Er, except when it isn't:
A little-noticed visit by Ahmad Chalabi to Syria is igniting speculation that the former Iraqi exile leader is emerging as a key channel between Damascus and Washington.
After a weekend meeting with the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, Mr. Chalabi announced that Syria and Iraq would formally open their respective embassies in Damascus and Baghdad on Monday. An American diplomat said yesterday that Mr. Chalabi also was gauging the interest of the Assad regime in a limited rapprochement with America.
Mr. Chalabi regularly consults with the American ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad....
In some ways, it ... reflects new political realities following the Iraq war, including a military and intelligence alliance between Syria and Iran, whose ruling mullahs often consult Mr. Chalabi on Iraq....
Well, I guess that makes sense -- Chalabi may be a double-dealing scumbag and a convicted criminal who once allied himself with the spiritual leader of the most brutal death squads in Iraq and now consorts with the nuclear-saber-rattling, Jew-hating nutball who runs Iran, but hey, at least he's not a Democrat.