John Boehner and his buddies in the Republican caucus have apparently been so busy loving the Constitution, that they forgot to read it. Somehow, Boehner missed that the Speaker of the House is not the prime minister of America, and (s)he is neither the head of government, nor the head of state.
But Boehner decided to play head of state, and invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak in front of congress, without consulting America’s actual head of state, President Barack Obama. Boehner has been getting blowback for his invitation from a variety of quarters for several weeks. Now, a new poll says that, in addition to the disapproval he has faced from the White House, Democrats, and others in the political classes, Boehner’s power play is being rejected by almost half of Americans.
According to NBC News, a poll of 800 voters, conducted between February 25 and 28, reveals that 48 percent say that Boehner and Republicans should not have invited Netanyahu to speak, without first notifying the president. Another 30 percent say the invitation was okay, and 22 percent say they don’t have enough information to decide.
As with most issues these days, the responses vary greatly along party lines, with 66 percent of Democrats disapproving of the invitation, and only 28 percent of Republicans doing so. And, while some on the right are using the issue to paint Democrats as being disrespectful of Israel, the poll finds that it’s not Israel that Democrats have a problem with, it’s Netanyahu, and his constant goading of the United States to engage in a very ill advised conflict with Iran. Netanyahu is far more popular with Republicans who were polled, than he is with Democrats. In the survey, he gets the backing of 49 percent of Republicans, and only 12 percent of Democrats. It’s an interesting takeaway that while Netanyahu is four times more popular amongst Republicans, he still is supported by less than half of them.
Netanyahu defends his speech.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu defended his speech on Friday morning. In a radio interview, he admits that the purpose of the speech is to influence U.S. foreign policy, by attempting to destroy the nuclear deal that is in the works between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Netanyahu says,
I am writing the speech and it is important, because I am going there to try to stop the deal from happening. We remember the times when Persia tried to destroy us, and today in the same Persia there is a ruler who calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and they plan on doing it with nuclear weapons.
So, we are about to be subject to a replay of the Bush administration’s tactics of saying that we must act, before the “smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud.” That didn’t work out so well before, but at least that time it was American officials who were making the pitch to congress, and to the public. This time, John Boehner and Republicans have usurped the role of the president as head of state, and are inviting a foreign leader to make their case for them. Judging from the responses to this poll, it sounds like many Americans are having none of it. Unfortunately, in the gerrymandered world of American politics, voters’ disapproval of the speech will likely result in little if any punishment at the polls for those who orchestrated it.
Image via Crooks and Liars