It is the news everyone is talking about: Speaker of the House John Boehner has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress just three weeks prior to Israeli elections. Even conservative Republicans called the move “cynical.” Chris Wallace of Fox News, a station not at all fond of President Obama, said the plan was “wicked.” Wallace continued, “Quite frankly, I’m shocked.” Michael Oren, Netanyahu-selected former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. urged the Prime Minister to cancel, because the move looks overtly political, as reported by People’s World.
Well, when something needs to be achieved, desperate measures should be taken. One could imagine that kind of reasoning justifying the unprecedented break in protocol which Boehner affected in a rather offhand manner, informing President Obama that Netanyahu would be addressing Congress only after it had been solidly agreed upon. However, instead of increased progress on the discussion of Iran and nuclear weapons, the subject Netanyahu is going to address, the boldness of the move put Democrats on the defensive in the Senate, and they extended the deadline for the vote on sanctions against Iran until March 24, after Netanyahu leaves and after Israeli elections. In the State of the Union address, President Obama said pushing sanctions might interfere with a comprehensive agreement in the works, but now the issue won’t even be discussed given rising tensions between Democrats and Republicans and Bibi and Obama.
At first glance, Netanyahu’s addressing Congress, with or without the blessing of the White House, may seem politically expedient for Bibi, but with Israelis polled saying the friction between Bibi and the American President is equally worrying as saber rattling from Iran, Bibi could easily lose some crucial swing votes over this move.
However, we aren’t given the gift of hindsight and who knows? I think we all hope that years from now, we will be able to comfortably say that Boehner did was a bit rash, unnecessary, but pretty much forgotten, because things turned out alright. God forbid if we are in a position a few years from now to say that Boehner’s and Bibi’s rashness was justified. I don’t want to know what could happen or what kind of disaster could be forestalled by the skin of our teeth that would make us grateful for this political chutzpah…but who knows…anything can happen. A few years from now, we may see this meeting as an understandable breach in protocol.