The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Goes Around, Comes Around

For the past six years, Barack Obama has repeated shown his contempt for his congressional opposition. He has questioned their motives, derided their morality, and joked about their intentions—all  because they had the temerity not to agree with his grand vision of big government and a soft and feckless foreign policy.

Six years later, his grand vision has lead to a weak economic recovery, frightening debt, and a disastrous foreign policy. But no matter, the president is very good at dishonesty, at suggesting that all is well, that his efforts have led to great successes. His recent SOTU is a prime example.

In 2014, this president suffered a political drubbing at the hands of the GOP (one that he, unlike other presdients, refuses to acknowledge). Of late, Barack Obama had publicly and repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that he doesn't like, including bi-partisan bills that have wide public support.

Among his many veto threats is his demand that the Congress not pass a bi-partisan bill that would sanction Iran if nuclear talks fail to result in a meaningful outcome. For the past few years, Obama and his Team of 2s have "negotiated" with the Iranians. Time after time, these "talks" have been extended as the Iranians—the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism—play out the clock in their effort obtain enough nuclear fuel for a weapon. They're getting closer every month.

Obama tells us that Iran's enrichment efforts have stopped or slowed down due to the Team of 2s negotiating efforts. That's a bald-faced lie, but nothing new for a president who regularly plays fast and loose with the truth.

But back to the acrimony between Barack Obama and the now GOP lead congress. Last week Obama had the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, lobby congressman and senators to try to convince them not to impose sanctions on Iran. This week the GOP struck back, invited Israel's Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, to address a joint session of congress to present the other side of the arguement. The White House and its supporters are incensed at this "breach of protocol" and have announced that Obama (like a small child throwing a tantrum) will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits.

Peggy Noonan comments:
Mr. Netanyahu is welcome to visit and speak to Americans anytime he wants, but Congress’s invitation, like Mr. Cameron’s lobbying, is a violation of diplomatic form, tradition and expectation. The United States has an elected president who serves a four-year term, and in that time he gets to conduct the nation’s formal diplomatic efforts and policy and to oversee its foreign-affairs apparatus and agencies.

Does Mr. Obama deserve to be embarrassed in this way? Of course he does! In his long years in the presidency he has demonstrated no regard for the Republicans of Congress, and now they are showing no regard for him.

But it is still a bad move, a damaging snub that makes divisions more dramatic, and not only between Congress and the president. Mr. Obama is forced to decide whether to invite Mr. Netanyahu to visit the White House while he is in Washington. The White House announced it will not, pointedly attributing the decision to “the proximity to the Israeli election.” This too is a snub, and it is hard to see how it does anything to fortify U.S.-Israeli relations.
Noonan does have a point, but a commenter (identified as "Kirk Finchem") on the WSJ website has a better point. He writes:
Ms. Noonan misses a few connections:

- Congress has a higher responsibility than respect of the Presidency--respect of the American people. On the one hand she argues the administration is disconnected from reality. And then she faults Congress for its novel presentation of reality--the prime minister's address to Congress.

- Don't ask permission if you don't want a 'No'. Ask forgiveness.

- Don't assume that your current (respectful) behavior will have ANY impact on the future behavior of the others; it may inspire audacity. The president, Reid, and Pelosi have demonstrated that they answer to a call higher than comity.

- The president treats Congress as he does because he thinks he can without important consequence. Congress can go with that, or clearly demonstrate consequence. He has a Veto Pen; they have invitations. The day after the announcement of the prime minister's address should have been "We welcome the President's NEW interest in working with Congress on the people's agenda."
In this case, after six years of derision by the president, Barack Obama has been disrespected by the Congress. What goes around, come around.

UPDATE (1/24/15):

Steve Hayes comments on the White House's dismay about the Netanyahu invitation:
When House speaker John Boehner invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in the coming weeks, the reaction from the White House was swift. In background interviews with reporters, top Obama administration officials made clear that they considered the invitation itself an affront and the acceptance of it a breach of protocol.


This is the same White House that last week had British prime minister David Cameron making calls to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers against more sanctions on Iran. It’s the same administration that had to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio and others for violating its pledge to “consult Congress” before making any unilateral changes to U.S. policy on Cuba. This is the same president who has boasted repeatedly of his ability and willingness to ignore the legislative branch and use his “pen and phone” to do what he wants. And this is the same administration that used the cover of anonymity to call Netanyahu “chickenshit” in a recent interview.

So spare us the whining about prerogatives and propriety and protocol. In a functioning capital—with a White House that understands the enemy is Iran and not the Republican Congress—it’d be better for Congress and the White House to coordinate efforts. But that’s not Washington today.
Exactly what is it that Obama White House afraid of? Is it possible that a cogent argument can be made for imposing future sanctions now if current "negotiations" fail in June? Is it possible that a respected and strong world leader will question Obama's mendacious claim that Iran's nuclear work has been largely curtailed? Is it possible the public will be reminded that there is is a vanishingly small chance of negotiating success with a regime that has been our avowed enemy for well over 30 years? Is it possible that the administration weakness in negotiation will be outed indirectly by Bibi Netanyahu? Yes. Yes. Yes. And Yes.