After the White House announced Pipes's nomination to the Institute of Peace, it was surprised to find that, in addition to the expected full-throated opposition from Democrats (most notably Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, and Chris Dodd), several Republicans threatened to flake out on the confirmation vote. This prompted the administration's decision to install Pipes during the August recess in order to circumvent the Senate.
Pipes's refusal to back away from radical positions has earned him a respectable cast of enemies. First among them is the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group which has expressed support for terrorists. Kennedy, Harkin, Dodd, and others (not a bad list of enemies in their own right) have signed on to CAIR's efforts to block the appointment.
Fortunately, Pipes enjoys strong support from Karl Rove, Elliott Abrams, and Condoleezza Rice--he even got the nod from Colin Powell. He is undoubtedly "controversial," as opponents of his appointment claim, and even administration officials acknowledge that "he goes overboard occasionally."
But the White House will stick with Pipes, even though the appointment process has been difficult. Muslim advocates and lefty Democrats have done their share to make trouble, but Pipes isn't going out of his way to make the process easier--or to guarantee the administration's continued support.
"When it comes to the Saudi-American relationship, the White House should be called the 'White Tent'," reads the epigraph of Pipes's Winter 2002/2003 article in the National Interest.
Two weeks ago, Pipes wrote in the Jerusalem Post: "Two of [CAIR's] former employees, Bassem Khafagi and Ismail Royer, have recently been arrested on charges related to terrorism . . . Despite this ugly record, the U.S. government widely accepts CAIR as representing Islam. Nationally, the White House invites it to functions."
In fact, Pipes regularly impugns the White House's guest lists. In November 2002 he wrote: "The White House would not consider inviting Baghdad's apologists to festive functions. But it welcomed many of militant Islam's sympathizers at a Ramadan dinner hosted by the president earlier this month."
So why would the White House go to all this trouble for someone who hasn't been particularly friendly?
Pipes has often hinted, suggested, and even said outright that the Bush administration is overly beholden to Muslims and the interest groups that claim to represent them. His appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace over serious opposition from those very groups, and in the face of his refusal to moderate his message, speaks volumes about just how little pandering the administration is planning on in the near future.
Katherine Mangu-Ward is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.
Correction appended 8/22/03: The article originally said that Daniel Pipes wrote "When it comes to the Saudi-American relationship, the White House should be called the 'White Tent'." That quote comes from Mohammed Al-Khilewi, who Pipes was quoting in his epigraph.