It appears that gut check time has arrived for the geniuses behind Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise visit to Congress. The move struck me as a hail mary pass from the beginning – the Israeli Prime Minister took Republican support for granted, as he should, but clearly expected Democrats to panic and participate in humiliating their own President. One can imagine what a coup that would have been for Netanyahu and his Republican allies. It must have come as a surprise when even Democrats as far out on the fence as Joe Manchin instead reacted as one might hope they would when a dependent client state takes a piss on the carpet.
With no bipartisan cover and little support in the press*, Boehner and Bibi might want to think about why teams only throw a hail mary in desperation. Among other reasons it gets intercepted a lot. And so now we have reached the inevitable prisoners’ dilemma stage of a failing gambit. Will the parties stick to their story or start tossing blame to save themselves? Take a guess.
A senior Israeli official suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been misled into thinking an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.[…] “It appears that the speaker of Congress made a move, in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one sided move and not a move by both sides,” Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told 102 FM Tel Aviv Radio on Friday.
If you think about it, Republicans seem to throw the hail mary a lot. Sure bad things could happen if we knock over Saddam Hussein, but they might not. Let’s, like, bet on it dude. Pointlessly risky behavior more or less defined John McCain as a candidate. Even if you set aside Sarah Palin the guy’s policy chops rest almost entirely on bold, aggressive and recklessly stupid answers to every foreign policy question. You could say something similar about Mitt Romney. Take for example his bold and somewhat desperate move to step all over the Benghazi episode before the bodies were cold. Republicans are still trying to drown the shame of that episode in pointless noise and rage. Worse, consider the rest of the 2012 GOP bench.
I suppose that so long as you set aside Israel’s interest as a country and focus exclusively on one guy’s political career the logic of a hail mary kind of works for Netanyahu. When he accepted the offer Bibi was looking at an imminent election that polls said he would probably lose. You really cannot say the same thing about John Boehner. For him inviting Netanyahu was never anything more than a spiteful lark.
Or maybe it seemed less like a lark and more like a brilliant, evil plan. Boehner and Bibi clearly inked the deal well before Obama’s State of the Union. Picture Obama offering a humbled hand across the aisle as many expected, and then Boehner answers with this. Talk about setting a tone for the next two years. It must have galled the House leader more than a little to drop his bombshell when the whole world was still laughing about the President’s harsh one liner. Obama did not show up with his hat in his hand, Democrats did not back down and his co-conspirators have left John Boehner with the political hot potato down his pants. Couldn’t happen to a
drunker lazier nicer guy.
(*) No great surprise to anyone following recent trends.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein rushed to meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday trying to calm a furor created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next month and quell a Democratic revolt that has dozens threatening a boycott.
It didn’t work.
…Seven Jewish Democratic members of Congress who met Wednesday in Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-N.Y.) office…lit into Dermer. The invitation, they said, was making them choose between Netanyahu and Obama, making support for Israel into a partisan issue that they never wanted it to be, and forcing them to consider a boycott of the speech. One member, according to someone in the room, went so far as to tell Dermer it was hard to believe him when he said he didn’t realize the partisan mess he was making by going around Obama to get Boehner to make the invitation.
Well sure, now Bibi knows that hiring a Republican political operative and former Romney staffer as his country’s ambassador might prove counterproductive.
It reminds me of the classic libertarian fallacy. You really should not expect something great, in this case Israel getting every single thing it wants from DC without a hint of pushback or criticism, to go on standing even after you have kicked over every last support which holds that thing up.