In the wake of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s speech there are a few interesting points to ponder. The first is President Obama’s growing irrelevancy. Maybe it was unlucky, but this morning we heard a statesman being embraced by lawmakers. Serious issues and serious people. This afternoon it is party time with a monarch with no power. A staunch Obama critic found the contrast between a “smug, second-rate, establishment-liberal narcissist” and the Israeli prime minister striking. As Obama is flitting around Europe, Netanyahu and Congress reached (perfect) agreement on Middle East policy.
For those searching for bipartisan foreign policy, we had loads of it today. The Hill reports: “House lawmakers from both parties are siding with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over President Obama in their differing approaches to the Israel-Palestine border dispute.” If you thought Republicans were tough on the president, consider this: “Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that Obama is ‘tilting toward Hamas’ – a reference to the Palestinian group the United States and Israel consider a terrorist organization. He emphasized that Congress would never base its approach to Israeli aid on such a position. ‘A majority of the Congress disagrees with him,’ Andrews said of Obama.”
Ever since conservative critics started taking issue with Obama’s approach to Israel and holding liberal lawmakers accountable for their voting records, the cry has been that Republicans are making “Israel a partisan issue.” Some even grotesquely intimate that conservatives are disloyal because they favor Netanyahu’s position (which coincides with every U.S. president before Obama). That meme was blown to smithereens by the 29 standing ovations by Democrats and Republicans, by the aggressive pushback from House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and by a fairly remarkable uppercut (he was a boxer, remember) by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
So it was particularly poor timing when it came out that the new DNC chairwoman introduced partisan squabbling in a meeting with Netanyahu and Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “A spokesman for the Israel embassy, Jonathan Peled, told me yesterday that the two Jewish groups ‘argued between them’ but that Netanyahu simply ‘stressed bipartisanship.’ ” Downright embarrassing, but more than that — out of touch with reality. If Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) wanted Netanyahu to squash criticism of Obama (a ludicrously inappropriate thing to do) she should have given him Harry Reid’s number.
On a final note, many pundits observed how well and emotionally Netanyahu articulated American values of liberty, diversity and tolerance. It’s not surprising given that he has spent a good chunk of his life here and that his closest aide is a former Floridian. His ode to America (like that of former British prime minister Tony Blair) is a reminder of what a leader eager to tout America’s greatness sounds like.