The White House is not denying that they are angry over Speaker of the House John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu conspiring to disrespect President Obama.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was on Fox News Sunday where it was easy to see that the White House is not happy with the Republican plan to have Netanyahu address Congress.
WALLACE: OK. This week, House Speaker Boehner invited and the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted an invitation to come to Congress in March to talk about Iran — all of this, doing it without any consultation of the White House. A senior U.S. official is quote in a major Israeli newspaper as saying this, about Netanyahu, “He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency and that there will be a price.” What’s the price?
MCDONOUGH: Look, I don’t know who made that quote. That’s not my position. That’s not the president’s position. And our view is that, as a traditional matter, we have avoided getting in the middle of our friends, even our closest friends like Great Britain or Israel, getting in the middle of their campaigns. Given the proximity of this visit to that election in Israel, we just think it doesn’t make any sense for us to have a meeting. So, that’s how we’re going to treat it. But also, let’s take a step back and talk a little bit about the strength of this bilateral relationship and its breadth from our shared values to intelligence, military —
WALLACE: I understand that.
MCDONOUGH: And that’s exactly how we’re going to treat this.
WALLACE: But are you angry, honestly? Are — is the — are you, is the president, is the White House, are you angry with Speaker Boehner for doing this on his own and for Netanyahu accepting it on his own without any consultation with the White House?
MCDONOUGH: Look, I don’t spend a lot of time on my emotions or getting angry, otherwise. I’d spend a lot of time dealing with the situations that we’re presented with. And here’s the way the president’s always seen the U.S.-Israel relationship, as above partisan politics, something that is fundamentally in our interest. And so, that’s how we’ll continue to treat this, irrespective of how this thing goes back and forth.
There were two elements missing in McDonough’s answer. First, the White House chief of staff didn’t utter a single word of welcome to the Israeli Prime Minister. Second, he never denied that the White House was angry about the disrespect that has been shown to the president. The White House’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu when he is in the country is one of the biggest non-verbal signs of displeasure that a president can give.
Beyond disrespecting the president, Netanyahu is clearly violating Israeli election law by holding what is, in essence, a campaign event in the United States weeks before the election in Israel. If anything, McDonough’s answer lends credibility to the report out of Israel that the White House is livid and warning the prime minister that there will be a price to be paid for his disrespect.
The White House is doing the right thing by, not meddling in Israel’s elections. Giving Netanyahu a bigger platform by having President Obama meet with him would be a blatant level of interference that the American people would never tolerate from an outside government in a presidential election. The White House reaction has nothing to do with U.S.-Israeli relations and everything to do with disrespect and domestic politics.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association