So Peter Beinart is here to tell us “why the Iran speech to Congress is Netanyahu’s biggest blunder yet.” Yes, in his twenty-something years on the international scene, Bibi’s yet-to-be-delivered speech to Congress will be the worst mistake he will ever have made. Why? Because, Peter tells us, because even Fox News is angry at Bibi Netanyahu. And why is that? It’s because Netanyahu has chutzpah. Oh.
There is one fundamental problem with media pundits criticizing Bibi for his speech before Congress. He hasn’t made it yet. Now, Bibi is not without his flaws; Lord knows Peter (and others) have made a career out of pointing them out. But Bibi is also a shrewd and clever politician with incredible staying power. Let’s give him the benefit of time. He may yet surprise us.
But really, let’s review this whole kerfuffle over Bibi speaking before Congress. Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress over common concerns: Islamic extremism and the Iranian nuclear threat. This invitation was weeks in the making. Netanyahu accepted.
Boehner seems to have done this in an effort to counter Obama’s desire to hold off on imposing new sanctions on Iran. Now here is where the trouble starts. Protocol dictates that the invitation come with White House approval; Boehner did not bother letting the Obama Administration know that he was inviting Bibi. (Netanyahu, offered the privilege of speaking before a Joint Session about a topic of critical importance, naturally leapt at the opportunity; why wouldn’t he?) But somehow, in the pissing contest between the Speaker and the President, Bibi gets the blame.