DENNIS KUCINICH claims he was misquoted. And perhaps it’s true: Maybe the Democratic representative didn’t exactly say, as the official Syrian news agency reported, that “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria . . . and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.” It could be that another quotation attributed to him, that “President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,” was a “mistranslation,” or a reflection of “the degree of appreciation and affection [the] state-sponsored media has” for the president, as a statement from Mr. Kucinich’s office delicately put it.
This much, however, appears to be uncontested: Mr. Kucinich, who has fiercely opposed the U.S. intervention against Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi, traveled to Damascus over the weekend to huddle with Syria’s dictator, who is desperately seeking to avoid being isolated and labeled illegitimate by the outside world. Thanks to the slaughter by his security forces of at least 1,400 people — the vast majority of them unarmed civilians — Mr. Assad has few friends these days: The European Union and United States have sanctioned him personally, and even his regime’s most faithful allies are close to abandoning him. On Tuesday, for example, a senior Russian diplomat met with leaders of the Syrian opposition, then declared that “Russia has only one friend — the Syrian people.”