What, Exactly, Is Dennis Kucinich Doing in Syria?

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Photo: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Intel Noreen, a native Clevelander who loves Keebler cookies and kooky news stories, naturally has a soft spot a mile wide for Representative Dennis Kucinich. Less so for brutal dictators. Which is why the news that the Kuce was in Syria (not for the first time) to meet with Bashar al-Assad was a little alarming: Kucinich even allegedly held a press conference in which he referred to the dictator as “highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians."

Kucinich quickly released a statement saying he was misquoted by the Syrian media, according to Politico, which sounds plausible, actually, since it is an oppressive, freedom-limiting government over there, looking for positive Western attention. The Ohio congressman — who may soon see his seat redistricted out of existence and is exploring a carpetbag run in some other Über-liberal district — wasn't there on official business, just visiting at the invite of that same oppressive government for a fact-finding trip on behalf of his Syrian-American constituents. As Joshua Keating of Foreign Policy points out, though, Kuchinich (who wants to impeach President Obama for intervening in Libya without congressional support) made some comments to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that seemed rather sympathetic to Assad: "I've read where President Assad has made certain commitments, and I would imagine that when things finally settle down, that President Assad will move in a direction of democratic reforms," Kucinich said. "He has already made that commitment from what I can see." It's an odd position at best for someone who has made a fierce antiwar stance (along with rhetoric about the dignity of human life) a huge part of his image. Dennis! Can't you just go back to having Shirley MacLaine as your most unlikely friend?

Syrian media quoting Kucinich: 'Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians' [FP]
Rep. Kucinich's Syria visit raises eyebrows [Politico]