Since the beginning of our country's history, the separation of powers has been a hallmark of our system. It can be frustrating at times, and result in progress coming in fits and starts, dotted among long passages of inaction and gridlock. The very nature of it, though, is to prevent one branch from usurping the powers of the others. It's always galling, though, when one branch tries to sidestep others.
All the way back to President Washington, the Executive branch has managed our relationships with foreign powers. The Secretary of State is one of the longest-existing, powerful, and venerated positions in the Executive branch, and 4th in line in succession to the presidency. It's an important job, and requires tact, diplomacy, and a deep knowledge of foreign cultures and political situations.
Republicans in Congress, however, think they know better. Despite their inability to even agree on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill, they feel that inviting a foreign head of state to speak to them about negotiations that our SOS is actively working on will somehow improve the situation. This is shoving a bull into the operating room while a doctor is performing open-heart surgery.
Naturally - there are a lot of unhappy people, including the president
Senior administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have declined to meet with Netanyahu this week because his visit is coming just two weeks before the Israeli elections.
Asked about Boehner's breach in protocol Tuesday, Obama stressed that Congress is not in charge of foreign policy.
"We have a system of government in which foreign policy runs through the executive branch and the president, not through other channels."
House Rep Peter Welch (D-VT) stated that "No single individual has done more to harm the vitally important U.S.-Israeli relationship than Netanyahu"
. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was furious
At one point, when Netanyahu suggested his nation's relationship with the United States should be above politics, Pelosi looked at her lap and shook her head. When he declared that, "if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand," Pelosi threw her hands up in exasperation. More than once, she turned to her deputy, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and appeared to vent.
she fumed in a statement afterward, adding that she didn't appreciate "the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation."
"What I heard today felt to me like an effort to stampede the United States into war once again," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who also skipped the speech.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said the speech was "straight out of the Dick Cheney playbook — fearmongering at its worst."
MSNBC's Chris Matthew's reaction
was just as angry:
“It was a startling situation,” he continued. “To allow someone to come in — knowing that was going to be their message — to the U.S. Congress. This was a decision made by Boehner and certainly complied with by Netanyahu and his ambassador [Ron Dermer]. They went into the U.S. Congress to take over U.S. foreign policy from the president.”
“Think it through, what country in the world would let a foreign leader come in and attempt to wrest from the president control of the U.S. foreign policy?” Matthews asked.
“This was a takeover attempt by Netanyahu with this complying America partners to take American foreign policy out of the hands of the president.”
And really - that is the crux of it. Regardless of what you think about how the President and Secretary of State are doing with regards to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, providing a foreign head of state the forum to inject himself into it, and attempt to override our own country's governmental processes is verging on treasonous in my book. Regardless of what you think of Israel and Iran, it is galling to think either country has a right to step into our halls of power and insult us, our abilities, our plans, and our knowledge.
Lest you think I exaggerate, you can read the drivel for yourself; here is an annotated version
. Republicans need decide who they represent - their constituents or another country in the Middle East.