Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a very simple message for a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday: America is pretty great.
Time and time again, Netanyahu heaped praise on the United States and referred to America's indispensable role in the future of the Middle East. "Israel is grateful for the support of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama," Netanyahu said to roars from the assembled elected officials. "Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome," he added later, again to loud applause. And, this: "Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel."
Netanyahu also cast America as the prime mover in Iran talks, the country that had the most cards to play. "They need the deal a lot more than you do," Netanyahu said at one point of Iran and the ongoing nuclear talks. "You have the power to make them need it even more."
That message was greeted with open arms -- and standing ovations -- by Republicans (and even some Democrats) who have often been critical of President Obama's alleged apologies for America on the world stage.
The takeaway? Despite Netanyahu's "deep regret" that his speech had become a political football, it was. (Worth noting: Netanyahu singled out Obama for a paragraph of praise very high up in the speech.)
Yes, his aggressive, uncompromising and strongly America-hell-yeah rhetoric was used by Republicans as a contrast to the weakness they see in Obama. Democrats, too, though made very clear their resistance to the whole idea of the speech because of an alleged breach of protocol -- and snubbing of the White House -- by Speaker John Boehner.
The lesson, as (almost) always: Nothing gets in the way of politics in Washington.