General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the US Congress without White House involvement a productive move?

Asked by ibstubro (18745points) February 4th, 2015

It seems ill advised to me, and even Netanyahu seems to be having his doubts.

Can you see a face-saving way out of this situation? I admit, I cannot.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

45 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

I don’t understand what the Democrats are afraid of. It may have been wise to hear what the Jews thought about Hitler before WWII instead of just listening to Neville Chanberlain. It would seem Israel has a vested interest in what happens with Iran and whether the agreement is a good one. If Obama has to censor anyone that doesn’t completely agree with him, his arguments may not be very strong. Frankly I want to hear what Netanyahu has to say.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The Republicans just keep stepping in it. Determined to remain the graveyard for strategic thinking, the club for the cognitively disabled once again leaps without looking for consequences. Sidelining the Department of State to slap the President is not only a bad idea, but it traps Uncle Ben (who’s just catching on) into openly choosing sides. Netanyahu has discovered to his rather bleak surprise that the bulk of the Jewish Community in this country does not share the mental enfeeblement currently defining the right. Both the Republicans and Benny miss the point that Obama is no longer worried about reelection. @Jaxk. Oh yes we’re ALL going to hear what he has to say. Your boys are FORCING him to talk, and it’s a BAD idea, as you will soon discover.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s a poor move all around; the Israeli intelligence community and others have publicly said that it jeopardizes talks between Iran and the West, Yes, it’s a bad move, Boehner is trying to rub Obama’s nose into the Republican shit, Netanyahu is running for re-election and trying to show he has US support.

But Netanyahu is in place because of the fractured Israeli political situation where ultra-right orthodox groups have disproportionate power. He doesn’t have support from the middle of the road Israelis.

The Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, is a former Republican strategist who worked on Gingrich’s Contract With America. He doesn’t like Obama or Democrats at all. If I were John Kerry I would find him persona non grata for interfering with politics in the US and trying to embroil the US in Israeli elections.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk Yes it might have been nice. But as with Negroes and everyone else of non preferential ethnicity, nobody cared what Jews had to say.

CWOTUS's avatar

It was a stupid move by Boehner to fail to coordinate a state visit without any White House involvement or prior notification. There’s no evidence that he has any master plan to embarrass the White House, and no one has ever accused the Speaker of having a surfeit of intelligence.

It is political grandstanding by the White House to get their panties in such a twist, and to outright refuse to countenance the visit, but perhaps somewhat understandable given the snub from the Speaker. There’s no good reason to maintain that outrage, though, except that it serves the White House’s purpose for now.

It is probably not Netanyahu’s smartest move to blindly follow his “I’ll talk to anyone who invites me” policy, without any (apparent) understanding of White House / Congress politics. (I suspect that he’s not as ignorant of the feud as some believe; he has his own issues with Mr. 0bama, and has been needlessly snubbed and criticized publicly by him for several years.)

Since this is an Israeli election year, Netanyahu can’t very well decline the invitation at this point, as it would look bad for him in internal Israeli politics. Boehner can’t very well rescind the invitation, partly for the same reasons – he has no wish to weaken the Israeli PM in his re-election fight – and mostly because he can’t admit that he made a mistake. The one who has made this “an issue” won’t change his mind for the above-mentioned reasons: to save face, for one, and because he wants Netanyahu to lose his re-election bid and because it serves his own interests to maintain a hostile stance toward a Congress controlled by the opposition party.

Judi's avatar

@Jaxk,
I doubt you would say that if Nancy Pelosi had started inviting foreign heads of state to speak to congress without consulting Bush. This is unpresidented and may very well be illegal.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@CWOTUS “It is political grandstanding by the White House to get their panties in such a twist, and to outright refuse to countenance the visit”

It is standard policy for the current US president not to meet with other heads of state in close proximity to their elections, in order not to be seen as trying to influence the election (feel free to call out the hypocrisy of trying to not appear to influence elections, but it’s still standard). Refusing to see him is totally within reason and completely standard protocol. Does it also help their case to do so? Sure, but it’s not at all unusual. On the other hand, Bohener’s actions are, as mentioned, literally unprecedented, though I’d personally stop short of calling it illegal.

Also, anyone who says “it would be nice to hear what he thinks” apparently doesn’t realize that the internet is a thing, and it’s pretty damn easy to find out what he thinks on the subject. Also, anyone who thinks he speaks for “the Jews” is just a taaaaad mistaken.

majorrich's avatar

If he was going to be in the hood and wants to drop in. Who’s to refuse him? It seems The Administration has been less than attentive or even neglecting them. If he wants to visit with Congress I have no problem with it. I am sure they passed it by the White House and it’s just being spun as Boehmer tripping on himself.

zenvelo's avatar

@majorrich The Prim Minister of another country doesn’t just “drop in.” This was a major invite by Boehner, and purposely bypassed the White House. And it was all orchestrated by the Israeli Ambassador who is an old Republican operative, to get Boehner to make a move for AIPAC.

Jaxk's avatar

Wow, I admit sometimes I get surprised at the twisted logic used in much of this site.

@Judi – I may have gotten upset if she had invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but not because she didn’t check with Bush. In fact, it would not have occurred to me that she needed to ask his permission to have some one speak to congress. As for illegal, they invited Stephen Colbert to speak to congress. If anything should be illegal that is it. Obama is merely throwing a hissy-fit because he doesn’t like Netanyahu.

@BhacSsylan – “it would be nice to hear what he thinks” – That is what a speech is for. Obama didn’t need to give a ‘State of the Union’ speech. we could have looked up his opinions on the Internet. Sorry, it’s not the same.

ibstubro's avatar

So, @Jaxk, you can’t hear what someone has to say unless they say it in front of the US Congress?

On the one hand you play it off as no big deal, and on the other hand you say anything less is not enough.

Netanyahu was skillfully manipulated by the Republicans, IMO. What appeared to be a coup at first glance could turn into a mini-crisis, and at the worst possible time for Netanyahu.

Jaxk's avatar

@ibstubro – I honestly don’t see the point. You are right in that asking Netanyahu to speak to congress is no big deal. Hell Obama was bragging that he had David Cameron lobbying congress. I suspect they could have figured out what he thought on the net as well. Now if congress wants to hear other opinions we have a mini-crisis on our hands. I think you may be overstating this just a tad.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Claiming that this is required to understand his opinion is ludicrous and you know it. Congress can ‘hear differing opinions’. They do so all the time. Hell, having Obama there is ‘hearing a different opinion’ than what they want right now, some of them even tried to stop that. You are, as @ibstubro said, trying to have it both ways. Either it’s only to get his opinion, in which case they’ve got lots of ways to do that that do not involve breaching long-standing protocol, or it’s for a political reason, in which case he’s specifically doing it in order to make a point. One is obviously the answer here.

Also, conflating the State of the Union, Colbert speaking, and the head of a foreign nation speaking is willful misunderstanding. Again, I’m not about to call it illegal but it’s certainly different, and there are protocols to follow. Any member of congress can call a US citizen to speak, and the SotU, while antiquated, is still a standard tradition. Breaking with foreign national protocols, specifically not seeking the opinion of the branch of government in charge of foreign affairs, and doing so in close proximity to Netnyahu’s own election, is extremely irregular and you know it.

Jaxk's avatar

Both you guys seem to be tiptoeing around the real issue here. Whether Netanyahu talks to congress or not is hardly an earth shattering event. What you’re worried about is that he may be persuasive. Congress is considering passing a bill with sanctions against Iran if they don’t agree to giving up their nuclear ambitions. Obama admits that his negotiations have a less than 50% chance of succeeding and he has pushed out the deadline twice already. Now he’s pissed because Congress doesn’t trust him to negotiate a good deal. History has shown he is not a good negotiator so congress has good reason to believe that. Netanyahu addressing congress is no big deal unless Obama makes it a big deal and that is what Obama is trying to do. Threats from this administration that if Netanyahu does address congress it will damage our relationship is pure theater and a tantrum by Obama.

BhacSsylan's avatar

“Whether Netanyahu talks to congress or not is hardly an earth shattering event. What you’re worried about is that he may be persuasive.”

No, we’re pointing out the fact you seem intent on ignoring that this is a direct snub of protocol. This is not some random thing that no one would pay attention to with another head of state. This is clear, stated protocol that Boehner is deliberately ignoring which no previous speaker has ever done. Obama issues less executive orders then any president in the last several generations and congress screams bloody murder at every one. Congress deliberately ignores the executive branch, the branch charged with foreign affairs, breaches long-standing protocol in setting it up, and is apparently oblivious or ignorant of the fact that it flies in the face of long-standing rules in regard to foreign heads with close elections, and now it’s “oh, shush, nothing to see here”. Also, note that Boehner lied when offering the invitation. He claimed that it was offered “on behalf of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate” which wasn’t true, as the ‘bipartisan’ leadership was never asked.

If he wants to be persuasive he can be persuasive without being physically present and breaching protocols. He’s already damaged said bill by snubbing the white house, which has caused democrats that were in favor to balk at it. Also, it’s really not just Obama. Frankly, Obama has done very little besides refusing to meet him, again siding with long-standing precedent. Quite a few conservatives, as well as US jewish groups, have said out loud it was a stupid thing to do, as well as powerful isreaili figures, though admittedly they have other motives.

CWOTUS's avatar

I agree, the snub of protocol is completely out of bounds, especially given the President’s rigorous adherence to protocol.~

Jaxk's avatar

Wow again. I didn’t realize it was all about protocol. Kinda like setting the fork on the right side of the plate for dinner. Some one should be shot.

ibstubro's avatar

How did you miss that this was about protocol, @Jaxk?
That was the foundation of the very first mention I heard of the story?

I can’t believe you’ve argued this long and this vehemently and not understood that basic foundation of the controversy.
I can assure you that both sides of the controversy are well away that it is of greater importance than silverware placement.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s not about protocol. It’s all about lashing out at anyone that disagrees with Obama. No one would threaten Israel (“a price will be paid) because Boehner make a protocol blunder. It is revenge pure and simple against anyone that dares to disagree with Obama. In other words, a tantrum.

janbb's avatar

(Sometimes I feel like Alice in Through the Looking Glass!)

zenvelo's avatar

@jaxk you seem to not be aware of the separation of powers within the Constitution. Relations with Foreign Countries are the purview of the Executive, not the Legislature.

And, the State of The Union is a Constitutionally mandated obligation of the President. While he may do so in writing rather than in an address to Congress, the President requests addressing a joint session.

And it’s not about lashing out against Israel, it’s about disrupting negotiations supported by Israeli intelligence while Netanyahu makes a campaign stop in DC.

ibstubro's avatar

@Jaxk, honestly, you would do you and your argument well to just admit that Boehner didn’t make a blunder, but a clearly calculated poke in Obama’s eye. Boehner slighted Obama and the office of the Presidency with clear malice of forethought. “Lashed out.”

“Speaker John Boehner and Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., planned it in secret for weeks, then sprang it on the State Department and White House (which gave Dermer an opening to blame the Speaker’s office “for not notifying” the Administration).”

Out of their league trying to manipulate American politics.

Jaxk's avatar

@zenvelo – I’m well aware of the separation of powers. I only wish Obama was.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk Matters of state ARE the purview of the executive branch, and diplomacy is ALL about “following the rules”. But beyond the stain of bad form lies the much more pertinent issue of whether or not the dunderheads responsible for this escapade are likely to realize any benefit from the event. A great many of the animals in our legislative zoo arrived there with degrees in law, and a maxim of that profession is that you never grant ANY “witness” an opportunity to open his or her mouth unless you are solidly convinced about what will come tumbling out of it.

So let’s consider the tumbling. What can Benny say that will benefit his cause? Care to speculate?

Jaxk's avatar

@ibstubro – I have no problem with admitting that Boehner did it on purpose. Nor do I have any problem saying that it was an intentional slight to Obama. Still Netanyahu’s input on Iran is of particular importance to both us and Israel. He would be a fool not to try and influence our decisions on Iran. I find it interesting that the guy that went to Berlin and gave a campaign speech to 200,000 Germans to win his election in 2008 is worried about Netanyahu doing the same here.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – Personally I believe the dunderhead is in the White House. If left to his own schemes he can do irreparable harm to us and the world. His negotiations so far have not been encouraging. As for what Bibi might say, this is not a trial and I can only hope his message will be honest and forthright.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Honest and forthright is meaningless. Which is riskier to his cause, speaking or keeping his mouth shut? Aren’t the Repubs in their effort to dis Obama, pushing Benny into a situation where the odds are distinctly against a favorable outcome for him and thus a catastrophe for themselves. Again, WHAT can he say that will advance his goals or benefit his agenda?

stanleybmanly's avatar

This is my point. Considering the risks, it is silly and extremely shortsighted to utilize Benny to needle the President. At the very least there is an unavoidable perception of him as a willing tool in the manipulative hands of clownish dummies.

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly – I don’t see it that way. Obama has already done his best to discredit Netanyahu in a futile attempt to keep everyone in the dark about his negotiations with Iran. Obama already has his campaign team working to defeat Netanyahu and he has taken every opportunity to disrespect Netanyahu with his actions and statements.

The desirable outcome would be that Iran gives up it’s nuclear ambitions. I don’t see that happening if Obama is left to his own devices. You seem to be terrified of what Netanyahu will say. You obviously don’t like him nor Boehner and seem to feel they will only make fools of themselves. So why would you care if they do?

stanleybmanly's avatar

I agree that everyone would prefer Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but it is readily apparent that nothing short of armed force is likely to dissuade them from that path. After all, that certainly was the case with Israel in its acquisition of the bomb. I am not going to insult you by accepting your statement that you believe there is a chance in hell that ANYTHING Ben has to say will turn Iran away from nukes. Whether I like him or the Speaker is irrelevant. The one thing that is beyond dispute is that this trip will certainly sully any sort of chance for progress in whatever negotiations are afoot, and Iran will have another opportunity to turn to the rest of the world (in which Israel has lost the PR war) and say “see, we told you so.”

Jaxk's avatar

Actually Netanyahu won’t persuade Iran to turn away but he may persuade congress to to pass the bill with automatic sanctions if Iran does not comply. Since you don’t believe there is any hope Iran will abandon their nuclear ambitions, it won’t hurt but it may stop them from continuing to delay. If Iran wants to try and use it to turn the world against us or Israel, they are going to try that regardless. Most Middle Eastern countries don’t want Iran to have a nuclear capability any more than we do.

stanleybmanly's avatar

NO ONE outside Iran wants to see that nation acquire the bomb, but this has been the case for every country that has the damned things, including Israel. The fact remains that Iran IS going to chase after the weapon regardless of any consequence short of its certain destruction, and perhaps even WITH such destruction all but guaranteed. The reasons for this are logical and predictable. It is inaccurate to state that Obama is weak and wimpy in his policies regarding the Iranian pursuit of nukes. The sanctions he has orchestrated have brought the country to its knees economically, and they are squirming under the weight. Obama has actually achieved an all but miraculous achievement in diplomacy by enlisting the cooperation of squabbling nations in muscling Iran economically, and the Iranian leadership is feeling the heat from its astute and well educated citizenry as their standard of living plummets. But Iran’s leadership has calculated (correctly) that inclusion in the nuclear club is so essential that privation and even temporary economic ruin are a necessary price. The screws are ratcheting down on Iran, and the orchestrated collapse of oil prices (thank you Saudi Arabia) is the ultimate sanction on Iran with the risky threat to the cohesion of Russia as well.

Now with all of this on the table, the ruefully inept goobers in the Congress have chosen to poke Obama in the eye, and decided to utilize the Prime Minister of Israel in achieving it. That Ben could allow himself to be roped into such a petty act of vaudeville foolishness does not speak well on his judgement, and you can bet your ass that the more astute members of his government as well as his sharper friends in this country have told him EXACTLY this. I’m waiting to see if some convenient reason will be manufactured to postpone the puppet show and prevent the embarrassing spectacle of the Prime Minister demeaning his office at the behest of a crowd of dummies.

ibstubro's avatar

“Netanyahu has denied seeking electoral gains or meddling in internal U.S. affairs with the speech”

“The Republicans know, as the president has already made clear, that he will veto this legislation. So in order to pass legislation that overcomes the veto, two-thirds are required in the Senate. So if the prime minister can persuade another one or two or another three or four, this could have weight,”

By what stretch of the imagination is influencing a member or two of the Senate not meddling in internal US affairs?

Source

Judi's avatar

@Jaxk, it’s that they are making our nation look foolish and that should concern all of us. Partisanship should stop at the boarder.

Jaxk's avatar

@Judi – Yes the partisanship should stop but who is it that is making us look foolish. Is it the guy that invited a foreign head of state to speak or is it the guy that is throwing a hissy fit because no one asked his permission. Who is threatening Israel with “a price to pay”. Who is threatening to boycott a foreign head of state.

The invitation was a fairly trivial event. The response from the White House and the Democrats has been nothing short of childish. IMHO

janbb's avatar

@Jaxk He is the President whether you hate him or not.

CWOTUS's avatar

Hmm … and Congress is independent of the White House, whether you like that or not, too, @janbb. I think that’s part of the argument that @Jaxk is making: the Speaker does not have to ask the President’s permission to extend an invitation to anyone to address Congress.

Jaxk's avatar

@janbb – Hate is a pretty strong word. I certainly don’t respect him but then he hasn’t shown respect for anyone else either. You reap what you sow.

majorrich's avatar

I don’t hate our President. I hate the things he does and says sometimes. I didn’t/don’t want him in that position, but there is nothing I can do about it. Just like the Army, I respect the Bird or Star, but not the man (as it were) behind the rank.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Like Clinton, I have a distinct feeling Obama’s era is going to look a lot better to a lot more people after he’s gone.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk If you think the invitation to the PM of Israel to address the Congress a trivial event, imagine, the reaction of the PM, and EVERYONE else had Pelosi invited the Palestinan leadership to address that body. How is Obama to to portray the United States as an objective and NEUTRAL arbiter in negotiations when one side in the dispute is allowed to state its case before the Congress while the other is clearly excluded?

Jaxk's avatar

Hamas is a designated terrorist group. I hardly see that as equivalent nor do I see how it should influence us if the Palestinians want Iran to have nuclear capability. But I could see Nancy Pelosi doing almost anything. She is after all, batshit crazy.

Judi's avatar

Wow. I just spent two days reading about an abused woman, wife of a progressive spiritual leader and the gas lighting that was done to her and it all started with the phrase, “bats shit crazy.”
Using that term to describe a woman is misogynistic and abusive and unfair to women and to the truly mentally ill.

Jaxk's avatar

You leave me no way to respond to your post.

ibstubro's avatar

Way to GO @Judi!! ~

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