Dems backing away from Zelaya?
posted at 5:00 pm on July 11, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The Obama administration jumped quickly into the fray over the removal and expulsion of president Manuel Zelaya from Honduras, calling the action a “coup” and demanding his reinstatement. Fellow Democrats in Congress followed suit, but The Hill reports that they may be changing their minds. Suddenly, they have begun acknowledging the crimes Zelaya committed and stopped calling for his return to office:
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of a key House subcommittee with jurisdiction over Honduras, roundly criticized both factions at a Friday hearing. But he also stopped short of calling for Zelaya’s immediate reinstatement, which he’d done in previous statements.
While Engel said the United States and its allies in the Western Hemisphere could not tolerate what appeared to be a military coup, he said Zelaya had ignored his country’s own Supreme Court, legislature and even members of his political party when he sought to change the constitution by seeking a second term as president.
“When the entire political establishment speaks and expresses dire concerns, the President needed to listen. From everything I can see, he did not,” Engel said during the hearing of his House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
In a statement on June 29, a day after Zelaya was removed, Engel called for Zelaya’s immediate reinstatement.
“I strongly condemn the removal of President Zelaya and believe that he should be reinstated without delay,” Engel said in the statement.
Maybe the national media can finally follow suit and report the entire story on the Honduran crisis. While the Hondurans made a big mistake in forcibly exiling Zelaya, they had ample reason to arrest him and try him for several violations of their constitution. It’s entirely possible to criticize the manner of Zelaya’s removal while still recognizing the necessity of protecting the nation from a dictatorship in its nascent stages.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration didn’t bother to get the facts before racing to the conclusion that Zelaya was a victimized democrat, whose main political allies in the region include such luminary defenders of liberty and democracy as Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and the Castro brothers. They ignored the lawful promulgation of the arrest warrant and the legitimate defense of the rule of law undertaken almost unanimously by the legislature and the Supreme Court. Obama helped Chavez and Raul Castro isolate the poverty-stricken nation of Honduras for defending its own constitution.
Engel has belatedly awoken to the news that the Hondurans have a case. For that, we can thank Republicans in Congress who have insisted on explaining that case, working around the White House and the State Department to do so. Let’s hope that the rest of the Democrats back off of Honduras and convince the Obama administration to end its partnership with Cuba and Venezuela in isolating Honduras.