John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Our Own History To Live

Posted on March 3, 2015
John Boehner official portrait.jpg

"John Boehner official portrait" by United States House of Representatives - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It was a Speaker who pushed America into the War of 1812.

Henry Clay, a hero to Mitch McConnell, ascended briskly to the gavel as a 34 year-old newly elected Member of the House, and he wanted the Congress to authorize action against the British Empire, who were threatening commercial interests in the Western Part of the growing nation.

It would be perhaps the first, but not the last time that a Congressional leader would take a leading role in charting American foreign policy.

In the 1980’s, Tip O’Neill and Jim Wright worked hard to undermine the Reagan Administration’s effort to stop the Communist Incursion into South and Central America.

Iran-Contra became a thing because the Congress passed limitations on what the President could do to support Freedom Fighters in Nicaragua.

So, we shouldn’t be that surprised that John Boehner and Barack Obama have conflicting visions of American policy in a place as volatile as the Middle East.

The Speaker invited Benjamin Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of the Congress because of those profound differences.

Some see this as a sign of disrespect, that the Speaker hasn’t show enough respect for the President’s foreign policy prerogatives.

Of course, the President has shown that he has very little regard for the Congress as an institution.   The Speaker practically begged Mr. Obama to not issue an executive order on immigration that has inflamed the Republican caucus and its political base.

The President ignored those warnings, and issued his executive order anyway.

Respect is a two-way street.

Of course, the President has also shown little respect for Mr. Netanyahu, trashing him on national television the night before his address to Congress.

The White House is furious that the Israeli Prime Minister engineered this invitation to address Congress, just as the State Department is trying to conclude a deal with Iran that will give them enough cover to develop nuclear weapons.

Mr. Netanyahu believes this deal will threaten the future security of his country.  Of course, he believes just about anything that happens in the Middle East threatens the security of Israel.   And as the President pointed out, Netanyahu wanted us to take out Saddam Hussein too, which the Bush Administration took care of for him.

Bibi is probably right on the Kerry deal, even if he was wrong on the Hussein deal.

In any event, the Speaker and the President don’t agree on many things, and one of them is on foreign policy, especially in regards to Israel.

Mr. Obama and his team have profound differences with Netanyahu and the current leadership in Israel.   This is not healthy for either side, but those differences are visceral and personal.

The Speaker was well within his rights to issue his invitation to the Prime Minister, and if Democrats want to show disrespect to Bibi by not showing up, well, that’s up to them.

I think it is a mistake for Congressional Democrats, who for so long have been the mainstay in our close alliance with the nation of Israel, to turn their back on that country’s leader just as our country gets close to concluding a deal which will  -- in all  likelihood – ultimately give the Iranians the ability to produce nuclear weapons sometime in the future.

John Boehner will give Mr. Netanyahu a bust of Winston Churchill to commemorate the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister is tying the record of the former British Prime Minister of addressing a joint session of Congress.

It’s kind of like hosting Saturday Night Live as many times as Steve Martin, but on a far bigger stage.

Bibi is no Churchill, but just remember, Winnie was just as controversial in Great Britain back then as Netanyahu is in Israel today.

We all have our own history to live.

Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More