Tuesday, March 3, 2015

House of Cards or House of Congress?

Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu
It seems more like a story line out of House of Cards: Congress going rogue and taking the extraordinary step of inviting a foreign leader to speak to Congress without consulting with the President. 

Unfortunately, that’s what will happen in reality today in Washington. The United States Congress is Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest campaign stop in his bid to keep his seat as Prime Minister in Israel, and Republicans are more than willing to be used as props as a foreign leader likely criticizes an American President on U.S. soil.

I want to be clear.  While I have my problems with Netanyahu, I understand his position as Prime Minister of Israel.  He feels he must do what keeps Israelis safe.  I also believe that with a tinderbox of nations around Israel that want to do it nothing but harm, it puts the country's Prime Minister constantly on the defensive.  I find Netanyahu personally a fascinating figure, and I have since I first became familiar with him in the 1990's.

That said, I believe many Republicans have a blind spot when it comes to Israel.  While I accept them as our friend and ally, I believe that Republicans and even some Democrats give the country and its leadership too wide of a berth.  Israel can not only defend itself against foreign enemies, but it has shown the ability to go overboard at times.

Thankfully, more than a few Democrats, including Indy’s own Congressman, Andre Carson, have seen through the politics of the speech. They won’t attend the speech. President Obama won’t be meeting with Bibi, either. The Vice President will also give Netanyahu’s speech the cold shoulder when he addresses the joint session of Congress.

All I have to say is that Congress is lucky Frank Underwood isn’t the President. Underwood likely would find a way to upstage Bibi’s speech and chaos would ensue. 

It’s clear that the Republican leadership in the House and Senate have gone rogue. It’s a dangerous precedent to set. Sure, President Obama has taken unilateral action, but his Executive Orders must pass legal muster. There’s no real litmus test for a Congress that has so heinously flaunted its own will and by extension dragged the American people into a far-off election.

Just imagine the uproar from Republicans if President Obama were to be invited by a foreign country to speak to their legislature just two weeks before a critical election.

Democrats aren’t doing that. They are simply doing what Americans have done for years when they disagree with something: boycott it. I wish Pete Visclosky and Joe Donnelly would join Congressman Carson and stand with the President against this moment in American history where Congress overstepped its bounds and an opportunistic politician played them like a fiddle.

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