The Spectacle Blog

Dennis in Damascus

By on 6.28.11 | 6:12PM

Jonah Goldberg highlights a report from the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency about Congressman Dennis Kucinich, currently in Damascus, praising Bashar Assad to the skies. Kucinich has issued a statement (which the @RepKucinich Twitter account seems to be tweeting at anyone who links to the SANA article or Jonah's post) claiming he was mistranslated:

Today, the Syrian Arab News Agency published an article that contained a number of mistranslations and mischaracterized statements that I made during a news conference in Damascus.

While on fact-finding mission in Syria, I was asked to share my initial reactions with some journalists, which I did. During my remarks I stressed the importance of the government paying attention to the democratic aspirations of the people of Syria. It is up to the people of Syria to decide the future of their government. There is a process of national dialogue beginning and this process is important. It is important that the Assad government listen carefully to the just demands and act positively to fulfill the democratic aspirations of the people of Syria. The process of national dialogue which has now begun is a step in the direction of identifying necessary reforms.

I did not come to Syria with my mind made up. After discussions with people at many different levels of society, I am convinced of the need for honesty, fairness and dialogue.

A story written about my remarks by the Syrian Arab News Agency unfortunately mistranslated several of my statements and did not reflect my direct quotes. Arab-speaking friends accompanying me have explained that the problem may have come from a mistranslation as well as the degree of appreciation and affection their state-sponsored media has for President Assad.

It is unfortunate that translation errors can create such problems. Given the stakes for Syria and the region, I will consider the article only an error, not a willful intent to mischaracterize my statements or my efforts in the region.

I intend to continue my efforts to determine as best I can exactly what is happening in Syria, ever more mindful of the maxim, "lost in translation."

This is pathetic. Kucinich's "fact-finding mission" is little more than a propaganda setpiece for the Assad regime, and while I have no doubt that SANA made Kucinich's remarks sound more pro-Assad than they were, that hardly absolves him of responsibility for appearing in Damascus in the first place. The fact that he is still going out of his way to assume good faith on the part of Syrian propagandists just cements his status as Assad's useful idiot.

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