House Speaker John Boehner again fell flat on his face on television on Sunday, admitting for all who were watching that he didn’t tell Obama about inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress because he didn’t want interference.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Boehner if he took one of the few bi-partisan issues we have left here and turned it into political football. Boehner, in characteristic form, said, according to Talking Points Memo:
I have not. The fact is that we had every right to do what we did. I wanted the prime minister to come here. There’s a serious threat facing the world. And radical Islamic terrorists are not going to go away.
And then when it comes to the threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon, these are important messages that the Congress needs to here and the American people need to hear. And I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the perfect person to deliver the message of how serious this threat is.
But here is where things get really dicey. Boehner gave his true reason for circumventing protocol and asking our ambassador to Israel, Ron Dermer, not to talk about it at all, which is:
Because I wanted to make sure that there was no interference. There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.
Netanyahu plans to speak to Congress about Iran’s nuclear capability in the midst of ongoing negotiations with them about that very thing. According to Reuters, Netanyahu believes those negotiations represent a grave threat to Israel’s security.
The New York Post says that Obama believes the March 3 speech falls too close to Israel’s elections and also violates protocol with not interfering in international elections. But Boehner’s insistence on inviting Netanyahu without saying anything to the White House, because he was afraid of interference, just smacks of the childishness for which Congressional Republicans have become known.
Boehner might as well have been saying, “Psst! Nobody tell Obama about the party this weekend. He’s such a downer. He’ll ruin everything if he comes.” Like we’re all back in junior high.
What about what the Israelis want? Boehner’s clearly not thinking about the fact that the population of another country is involved here. A new poll of Jewish adults in Israel found that a majority think Netanyahu should cancel his speech. They’re also not sure just how effective the prime minister’s speech is likely to be, with 43% saying that they don’t think it will prevent the U.S. and other world leaders from negotiating some type of agreement with Iran over nuclear weapons.
It’s time for Congress to grow up and stop playing these games. They do this stuff, and then they wonder why the public’s opinion of them is in the toilet. Perhaps we do need to hear what Netanyahu has to say, but perhaps we should also remain above board when inviting national leaders to speak.