BARRACK BUSTS “BIBI”/BOEHNER BUNGLE
Let me make sure I got this right – the President of the United States of America is engaged in sensitive negotiations with another sovereign nation, Iran, about matters deeply rooted in the perceived security interests of each nation. The President takes time during his State of the Union speech to specifically ask the US Congress to allow these negotiations to continue without further Congressional interference until the negotiations succeed or fail in the months ahead. This request from the President, who is responsible for the negotiations on behalf of the nation, seemed reasonable, prudent and worthy of support from all sides given already strained relations with Iran and given that nuclear non-proliferation is at stake.
But hell-bent on ensuring President Obama’s failure, no matter the wisdom of his actions, up pops the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, to invite Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the leader of a third sovereign nation, Israel, to address the Congress of the United States in public session to present his well-known negative views about these very same sensitive negotiations. There are only two intended results from Boehner's invitation – embarrass President Obama and undermine the sensitive negotiations. So surely the leader of Israel said Thanks but I will decline.
Guess what – that is not what happened. Israel’s intrepid leader said Sure I will come, apparently happy to embarrass the President and hopeful that US negotiations with Iran will fail. It bears noting that the same intrepid president of Israel actually can’t wait for the negotiations to fail so he can weigh in with his Republican buddies in Congress to pressure the US administration into US military action against Iran, a sovereign nation with real people who will die and a real military. [NOTE: Netanyahu, as president of one of the few nuclear countries in the world that has not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is seeking to tell the US Government, which has ratified the treaty, how to proceed on non-proliferation with Iran, which also has ratified the treaty. Perhaps while Netanyahu is here, those so worried about Iran’s nuclear proliferation might suggest to their guest that Israel get on board with the rest of the responsible nuclear world, a move that might give Israel a little international credibility on the issue.]
There is some good news in all of this – the-newly-minted Obama who finally seems to understand the depth to which his opponents will sink to ensure his failure told the President of Israel (yes, OF ISRAEL) to butt out, in so many words. Some are ringing their hands over this; I am using mine to applaud.
But I want the President to go further, to seek to embarrass those who would embarrass him. Remember that it is the American exceptionalism crowd who has apparently decided that America isn’t exceptional enough to get the Iranian situation right without being told how to do so by an unexceptional Israeli. So, I say, bring on Netanyahu and then let’s get out a few Presidential invitations in response.
I would start with Fidel Castro before he dies. The President could invite Fidel to a state dinner preceded by a big press conference from the Oval Office:
My Dear Amigo Fidel:
I am writing to invite you to Washington for dinner and an opportunity to address the American people on issues of mutual interest and about which Cuban insight might be helpful in shaping US policy. Please consider universal health care and education reform as high interest items for your visit. The Cuban view of conditions at GITMO and human rights abuses in US prisons would be of considerable interest to the American people, as well.
Your Amigo Barrack O.
A lecture of this sort from another world leader could open the eyes of the American exceptionalism crowd among whom Boehner is a charter member. Those folks never seem able to see that the land of the free and the home of the brave is really short on universal health care and universal access to quality education, or that our prison system is a festering human rights sore. Just as Netanyahu apparently has a lot to teach us about nuclear non-proliferation, I am sure that Boehner and his right-wing buddies will want to hear from Fidel about some of the ways in which the Cuban experience could inform US policy decisions.
If this works out, maybe Boehner could respond by arranging to provide Congress and a grateful nation with a whole series of international visitors from countries that have succeeded where Obama has failed:
The Egyptian President on military integrity in a civil society
The Pakistani Prime Minister on religious tolerance
The North Korean President on filmmaking in a free society
The Honduran President on reducing drug-related violence
The take away should be that the most exceptional aspect of all of this is the extraordinary level of contempt that Boehner and a majority of Republicans seem to have for a man twice elected by the people of America to lead them. This vile contempt is undermining governance in our country and is laying waste to a Constitutional framework that has served this country very well.