If the President knew before why did the administration go crazy about not being told about the visit. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said typical protocol was for leaders to contact the White House before planning a visit, claiming the White House didn’t learn of the invitation until just before House of Representatives Speaker Republican John Boehner publicly announced that he had offered the invitation and that Netanyahu had accepted it. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said “traditionally we would learn about plans of leaders…separately from…the Speaker,” again implying that neither Netanyahu nor anyone else informed the White House of the visit.
And perhaps Bibi didn’t, the Prime Minister’s office has said they assumed it was Boehner’s job to tell the president, and according to the New York Times we learn that somebody informed the White House, so if it wasn’t Netanyahu, it must have been the Speaker. Either way he did not raise any objections until he saw that “being wronged” was a political opportunity.
According to David Bernstein’s story:
This correction has circulated in conservative and pro-Israel circles,
but doesn’t seem to have led to any followup, or any investigations by
those who initially reported the opposite. If the correction is correct,
then we have a situation in which the administration was so grossly
incompetent that it was circulating false information about Netanyahu
from multiple spokespeople, or that it intentionally sought to undermine
Netanyahu by lying about his alleged “breach of protocol.” It’s also
possible that the administration strongly objected when it was told of
the invitation, but Netanyahu accepted anyway, but there has been no
indication from the White House that this is the case.
A commenter points out that the Times’s correction doesn’t say
the Netanyahu informed the White House of the invitation before he
accepted it, just that someone did. So maybe it was Boehner. Let’s say
that’s true. Boehner informs the White House that that he’s invited
Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The president, as far
as we know, does not tell either Boehner or Netanyahu that he opposes
the visit. So Netanyahu, apparently believing the invitation to be
bipartisan, at least that is what the speakers invite said
His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
3 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Jerusalem, Israel 91950
Dear Mr. Prime Minister: It is my honor, on behalf of the bipartisan
leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, to
extend to you an invitation to appear before and address a joint meeting
of Congress on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.
I thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your reply.
Bibi, hearing no objection from the White House, accepts the invitation.
I’m no expert in diplomatic protocol, but the Israeli side, judging from
media reports, seems genuinely surprised that accepting a “bipartisan”
invitation from the Speaker of the House, known of but not objected to
by the president, should be deemed a breach of protocol. And it surely
seems like this wouldn’t have become a diplomatic incident if the White
House didn’t want it to. If lie is to strong a word, why did the White
House strongly imply that it was blindsided by the announcement of
Netanyahu’s speech, when they knew about it before he even accepted the
Also keep in mind that a similar thing happened in 2011 with no objection from the president. According to a Politico story written on January 25th (before the NY Times correction):
Soon after becoming House Speaker in 2011, Republican John Boehner started running the traps on inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint meeting of Congress.
But when Barry Jackson, then Boehner’s chief-of-staff, checked with President Barack Obama’s top advisers, Jackson said he was left waiting a month only to get no response. Ultimately the Netanyahu speech went ahead in May but soon after Jackson faced the opposite problem: the White House had promised South Korea’s leadership an appearance before Congress, he said, without checking first with the speaker.
The claim that election politics is Netanyahu’s motivation for making the trip ignores the facts. The Iranian nuclear program has been a key issue for Bibi since he first took over as Likud party leader in 1993. Obama is making a deal which not only put Israel in danger, but more importantly now that Iran is getting long-range-missiles from Russia it is an existential threat to the United States. It is not my judgement calling the deal bad, nor is it that of Bibi Netanyahu but it the judgment of Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham, the EU, and the usually friendly to Obama Washington Post editorial board. And the fact is if President Obama was so concerned about not interfering with elections why did Secretary of State Kerry and Vice President Biden meet with Bibi Netanyahu’s opposition this past weekend?
So why is the Administration attacking today when they didn’t attack in 2011? Why is the Administration going all out to make it seem as if they didn’t know about the invite for next month? Why is he getting the VP and members of the Congressional Black Caucus to boycott the Bibi speech? As you can see by the letter the Speaker sent to the Prime Minister both
parties thought it to be a bipartisan invitation. Whether you like the speaker or not, you have to recognize he is very
exacting in his words–If his invitation said it was
bi-partisan –it must have been at the time or he would have used a
different word .
Obama’s anger is nothing but a is a political stunt. Not by Netanyahu or Boehner, but by the President and his progressive friends. It was the crocodile
tears of the Administration, which turned Netanyahu’s speech political,
aided by some of his favorite lemmings like Rep. Lewis and the ADL’s Abe
What happened was a perfect set-up by the Administration. Two of this President’s least favorite people in the world are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the House John Boehner. With one “lie” this president makes Netanyahu and Boehner look overly political and damages the credibility of the forces trying to stop him from making a bad deal with Iran all at the same time.
In the end it is more proof that this administration and its political allies do not allow dissenting opinions and will attack anyone and anything that will raise objections.