Category Archives: Republican(s)

A Speech Netanyahu Must Give

Mr Stephens hits the nail squarely, again!
Even friends of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are second-guessing his decision to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress next month on the subject of Iran, over loud objections from the Obama administration. The prospect of the speech, those friends say, has sparked a needless crisis between Jerusalem and Washington. And it has put Democrats to an invidious choice between their loyalty to the president and their support for the Jewish state, jeopardizing the bipartisan basis of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Sensible concerns—except for a few things. Relations between Israel and the U.S. have been in crisis nearly from the moment President Obama stepped into office. Democratic support for Israel has been eroding for decades. It was the U.S. president, not the Israeli prime minister, who picked this fight.

Oh, and if there’s going to be a blowout in U.S.-Israel relations, is now really a worse time than later this year, when the Obama administration will have further cornered Israel with its Iran diplomacy?

Because memories are short, let’s remind ourselves of the Ur-moment in the Bibi-Barack drama. It happened on May 18, 2009, when Mr. Netanyahu, in office for just a few weeks, arrived to a White House that was demanding that he endorse Palestinian statehood and freeze settlements, even as the administration was rebuffing Israeli requests to set a deadline for the nascent nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

The result: Within a month of that meeting, Mr. Netanyahu duly endorsed Palestinian statehood in a speech at Israel’s right-wing Bar-Ilan University—roughly the equivalent of Mr. Obama going to a meeting of the Sierra Club and urging its members to get over their opposition to fracking. By the end of the year, Mr. Netanyahu further infuriated his right-wing base by agreeing to a 10-month settlement freeze, which even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged was “unprecedented.”

What did Mr. Netanyahu get in return from Mr. Obama? While the president stuck to his refusal to set “an artificial deadline,” he did concede in a joint press conference that “we’re not going to have talks forever. We’re not going to create a situation in which talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing a nuclear—and deploying a nuclear weapon.”

The promise not to “have talks forever” was made six years ago. Since then, diplomatic efforts have included the 2009 “fuel swap” proposal; the 2010 Brazil-Turkey-Iran declaration; the 2011 Russian “step-by-step proposal”; the 2012 diplomatic rounds in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow; and finally the 2013 “Joint Plan of Action,” a six-month interim deal that is now in its 13th month.

Now Mr. Obama is vowing to veto the bipartisan Kirk-Menendez bill that would end the charade by imposing sanctions on Iran in the event Tehran doesn’t sign an acceptable nuclear deal by the summer—that is, after the third deadline for the interim agreement has expired. The president is also demanding that Democrats rally around him in his histrionic fit over the Netanyahu speech. This is from the same administration that, as Politico’s David Rogers reminds us, never bothered to consult Mr. Boehner on its invitation to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to address Congress in 2011.

This history is worth recalling because it underscores the unpleasant truth about America in the age of Obama. The president collects hard favors from allies and repays them with neglect and derision. He is eager to accommodate the political needs of authoritarian leaders like Iran’s Hasan Rouhani but has no use for the political needs of elected leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. He believes that it is for other statesmen to stake their political lives and risk their national future for the sake of a moral principle—at least as Mr. Obama defines that principle. As for him, the only thing sacred is his own political convenience.

This is the mentality of a peevish and callow potentate. Not the least of the reasons Mr. Netanyahu must not give in to pressure to cancel his speech is that he could expect to get nothing out of it from the administration, while humiliating Mr. Boehner in the bargain.

Mr. Netanyahu also needs to speak because Congress deserves an unvarnished account of the choice to which Mr. Obama proposes to put Israel: either accede to continued diplomacy with Iran, and therefore its de facto nuclearization; or strike Iran militarily in defiance of the U.S. and Mr. Obama’s concordat with Tehran. A congressional vote in favor of Kirk-Menendez would at least make good on Mr. Obama’s unmet promise not to use talks as “an excuse for inaction.”

Above all, Mr. Netanyahu needs to speak because Israel cannot expect indefinite support from the U.S. if it acts like a fretful and obedient client to a cavalier American patron. The margin of Israel’s security is measured not by anyone’s love but by the respect of friends and enemies alike. By giving this speech, Mr. Netanyahu is demanding that respect. Irritating the president is a small price to pay for doing so.

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The Impeachment Delusion

Right to the point.
One unfortunate reality of modern politics is the right-left mutually reinforcing media echo chamber. The most extreme voices on either side broadcast the most outrageous statements of the other side as a way to define their opposition and attract attention to themselves. This is the way to understand the flurry of fever-swamp chatter about impeaching President Obama.

Sarah Palin joined the impeachment calls on Tuesday, which could mean that the former Alaska Governor has been feeling neglected. She is following the talk radio hosts and obscure authors who are trying to increase audience share or sell books by posing as Mr. Obama’s loudest opponents.

Mrs. Palin immediately received the media fillip she wanted, especially from MSNBC and the left-wing websites that want to portray the fading GOP star as a conservative leader. Progressives would like nothing better than for Republicans to try to impeach Mr. Obama, so they could scare up otherwise demoralized Democratic voters to come to the polls this November.

On Wednesday House Speaker John Boehner said “I disagree” with Mrs. Palin, though as usual without elaboration. What he might add is that the Constitution says a President can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Bill Clinton lied under oath and Richard Nixon obstructed justice. While Mr. Obama’s abuses of executive power are serious, they don’t rise to that level.

Impeachment is also inherently a political process that at the current moment would backfire on Republicans. Mr. Obama is unpopular, but that is due mainly to the failure of his policies. Focusing on impeachment lets Democrats off the hook on those progressive failures and plays into their claim that GOP opposition to Mr. Obama is personal. Then there is the answer to nobody’s question—President Biden? Impeachment fails to address any of the problems that Republicans are upset about.

If conservatives really want to address those problems, they should elect a Republican Senate majority. A GOP Senate could stop the President’s worst appointees, including judicial nominees. It could use budget reconciliation to pass policy reforms on ObamaCare, energy and other issues that the President would pay a political price for vetoing. And a GOP Senate could add its oversight power to dig into government abuses like the IRS political targeting.

Republicans aiming to rebuild a governing majority should be making a systematic case about the failures of Democratic governance that include slow growth and stagnant incomes, fewer health-care choices and higher costs, growing world disorder, and more. Trying to impeach Mr. Obama now is firing at the wrong target at the wrong time with the wrong ammunition.

The Impeachment Delusion – WSJ.