The fingers of blame are already pointing in the Netanyahu speech debacle.
In an attempt to justify and mitigate Prime Minister Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Congress, Ron Dermer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ambassador to the U.S., basically threw Speaker Boehner (R-OH) under the bus.
Responding via email to questions posed by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Dermer tried to backpedal for their egregious end-run around the U.S. President by blaming John Boehner for failing protocol.
In an article entitled, “Israeli Ambassador: Netanyahu Never Meant to Disrespect Obama”, Jeffrey Goldberg started off by asking, “It is widely believed (by, among others, me) that you and your government were making an end-run around the White House. Is this not the case?”
To this, Ambassador Ron Dermer rather desperately tried to appeal to the public, “The survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.” And then he got right to the point of tossing the hot ball at the U.S. House Speaker.
From The Atlantic:
Now let me tell you the facts. The speaker’s office initially reached out to me regarding the idea of the prime minister giving a speech less than two weeks before an official invitation was sent. We said that we were open to making such an address and went back and forth with the speaker’s office to see if there were potential dates that could work for the prime minister’s schedule and the congressional calendar. The final decision to invite the prime minister was made by the speaker’s office the day before he was invited—and I was informed of it that afternoon.
It was also made clear to me that it was the speaker’s responsibility and normal protocol for the Speaker’s office to notify the administration of the invitation. That is why I felt it would be inappropriate for me to raise the issue with the administration, including in my meeting with the secretary of state, until the speaker notified them.
The speaker’s office apparently informed the administration about it the morning of the announcement, around two hours before it was publicized. After it was publicized, we were in contact with administration officials, both here and in Jerusalem. We informed them that we wanted to move the date to March 3 so that it could be combined with a visit to AIPAC that the prime minister was also considering. Once that date was cleared with the speaker’s office, the prime minister officially announced that he would accept the invitation to come and speak.
Asked why his Prime Minister is so sure Obama will strike a weak deal with Iran, Dermer had no good answer, “Israel does not know whether there will be a deal with Iran but we are very concerned about where things are headed.”
Oh. Well, the thing to do about that isn’t to run an end game around the fellow who runs the country and has provided huge support, upon which you are relying.
And while it wasn’t partisan before, Netanyahu just made it partisan. He just cut out all of the Democrats who support Israel and spit in their face by trying to use Speaker John Boehner’s bad judgment as a weapon against the President.
So now Dermer is tossing Boehner under the Netanyahu speech bus, claiming the end run around protocol was not committed on their end, but on the Speaker’s end.
This fiasco reveals the craven politics of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner. Boehner, who is suing President Obama a second time, has made attacking the President his only cover for his inability to govern. He has embarrassed himself suing the President over things all sane legal scholars tell him he can’t win and has no case over. Facing his prolonged legislative impotence, Speaker Boehner reached around the world for a leader as desperate as he and found that person in Netanyahu. Ambassador Dermer was the assist.
Netanyahu and Dermer cannot blame Speaker Boehner. In fact, this should be a lesson to world leaders and diplomats everywhere– when John Boehner tries to use you for his own failed agenda, run in the other direction. But Netanyahu is no innocent victim of John Boehner’s politics of desperation.
Netanyahu is sort of the Chris Christie of Israel, and his bullying is getting old. He tried to play BMOC against Obama, in an attempt to puff himself up back home as he faces an increasingly challenging election, but this too is looking like a miscalculation.
There isn’t a bus big enough to save Speaker Boehner or PM Netanyahu from this one. President Obama has been overly generous with both men, in spite of their previous bad behavior. But this is a slap in the face that won’t be forgotten. Obama is not the type of leader to abuse his power by withholding aid or causing suffering to innocents over a slight and this confuses those who do operate that way; they misread Obama’s character as weak.
The President didn’t get elected twice by being “weak”. President Obama will target each of these men individually in a political fight they can ill afford.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.