I have come to expect rudeness from Republican lawmakers. They routinely display bad manners. Representative Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech six years ago is one memorable example. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s trademark bullying at town hall meetings is another. I could come up with dozens more, and I’m sure you could, too.
But even after six years of Republican rowdiness at Congressional hearings, as well as their disrespectful slurs against the President and their persistently boorish remarks, I wasn’t ready for John Boehner’s unilateral decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress. He didn’t bother to touch base with the White House first.
That kind of behavior, according to people who keep track of such things, is a first. It is also a shocking breach of protocol, a slap in the President’s face and, possibly, a violation of America’s constitutional separation of powers.
Boehner (above, left, with Netanyahu) must know his invitation will endanger ongoing negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Everyone knows how fiercely Netanyahu opposes the negotiations.
Furthermore, Boehner may have committed a felony. I just read an article in Truthout arguing that the invitation is illegal, and might even be seditious. The article suggests it could warrant jail time for Boehner and calls on the Justice Department to take action.
Congress is talking about imposing a new round if sanctions on Iran, and the President declared in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that he would veto such sanctions. I’m sure you can imagine how he feels about Boehner’s invitation to the Israeli prime minister.
But I think it’s a stretch to advocate prosecution for Boehner.
Of course it would be merely tit-for-tat as Boehner is pursuing some kind of legal action against President Obama. But I am sure the President would not stoop to Boehner’s level. He will accept this latest insult with dignity – just as he has endured the outrageous cartoons and slurs of the past six years.
It will be up to the voters – you and me – to repay Boehner and his fellow-Republicans in our next trip to the polls.