Today Pope Francis delivered a speech to Congress and almost every member of Congress showed up. I was very surprised that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were there. After all Speaker Boehner didn’t check with President Obama before he made the invitation, and before he made the speech it was rumored that the Pope’s address would be very political. The last time Speaker Boehner invited a leader without the permission of the president and the leader was rumored to make a political speech the Congressional Black Caucus members boycotted the speech.
During his speech today Pope Francis touched upon many issues that people would normally consider political but he didn’t deliver his speech to be political, he was delivering the message of a pastor. Some of his message agreed with the President, issues such as immigration and climate change, and some of it disagreed with the president such as the sanctity of life and the importance of a traditional family unit. He praised the United States and its traditions and its role in the world community. His overall message was about mankind doing the right thing to mankind. Not only did members of the Congressional Black Caucus show up, but they even applauded the message of the Pontiff.
That’s not to say Boehner shouldn’t have invited the Pope to address the congress it was a most appropriate thing to do.
Earlier in the year John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address congress. His speech was expected to be political (and wasn’t). But almost as soon as Netanyahu’s speech was announced members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they were boycotting the speech:
Israeli officials have been taken by surprise by the CBC backlash, kicked off by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights leader who said last week he won’t attend, quickly followed by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and others. As a result, they’re working to set up a meeting for CBC members with Ambassador Ron Dermer — or even Netanyahu himself when he’s in Washington.
“To me, it is somewhat of an insult to the president of the United States,” said Rep. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.), leaving the White House on Tuesday after a long meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who also will miss the speech. “Barack Obama is my president. He’s the nation’s president, and it is clear, therefore, that I’m not going to be there, as a result of that, not as a result of the good people of Israel.
Heck, Charlie Rangel told Netanyahu he would only meet with him if he stayed with the other Jews.
Netanyahu’s speech disagreed with the deal being negotiated with Iran, but overall Netanyahu praised President Obama:
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known. I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
Both leaders were invited to speak without first checking with President Obama. Just like the Pope, Netanyahu made a speech that touched on issues seen as political by some, but delivered a speech that praised the U.S. and especially the president. His overall message was about not letting Iran kill millions of Jews, which in theme was not that different from the president’s message
Yet the Pope was given the benefit of the doubt by the CBC Netanyahu wasn’t given. Rep. Meeks didn’t prejudge and say it was an insult to the president, Charlie Rangel didn’t tell the Pope that he would only meet with the Pope when he was hanging out with other Catholics.
Two leaders with a similar message mankind should be nice to other mankind, and each gave similar praise to the United States. Even though the should have been at both speeches the Congressional Black Caucus only showed up to one of the Speeches. Perhaps the reason for the difference is clearer than most people would admit. The speech they listened to was from the leader of the Catholic Church. The speech they condemned even before they heard was delivered by the leader of the only Jewish State in the world, a clear indication the bigotry of the Congressional Black Caucus.