Politico's title was promising: 'There appear to be no rules anymore.'
I perked up. Aha! They're finally getting a clue about what the Republican loons are doing, right?
Silly, silly me. But this article is so out there, so incredibly packed with loads of anonymous "Democrats" (think Joe Manchin-style Democrat), so laden with false equivalence that I reached for the letter opener and contemplated what it might feel like to stab something with it. Would I feel better? Would the aggravation go away?
Probably not, which is why you all get to read my rant instead.
I've been half-cocked in the pissed off position for days now, starting with when Speaker John Boehner decided to intervene in United States foreign policy and give Bibi Netanyahu a big wet, sloppy kiss along with an in-kind contribution to his election campaign.
To me, there are some things you don't screw around with even if you are the most cynical politician on the planet. Diplomatic negotiations to prevent other countries from nuking us all into oblivion would be one of those things. Despite John Boehner's wide-eyed protestations, the choice to unilaterally extend the invitation was entirely intentional. Newly-minted Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton even called it "a feature, not a bug."
Republicans want to destroy any possibility of a successful agreement with Iran. Diplomacy is so last year to them, but war rocks forever.
All of which brings me to Politico's unique ability to make me want to turn to violence as a solution. Author David Rogers wrote the aforementioned article. We begin with the paragraphs that drove me to my letter opener:
“There appear to be no rules anymore. If you can do it, do it,” said Patrick Griffin, who recalls nothing quite like this even in the tempestuous times Griffin served as White House liaison between President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), herself a former speaker who oversaw similar joint meetings for foreign guests, said the management of the invitation was “inappropriate” and Boehner risks squandering his power in a fit of “hubris.”
So far, so good. Responsibility put where it belongs. Then comes the stabbing point:
But privately, Democrats admit too that this White House — as seen in the South Korea episode — is no innocent. And Jackson, who has served at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, said he is baffled that the administration should talk now about “protocol” after being so quick to exert its executive power to run over Congress.
BAM! Both sides both sides both sides! And look at what they point to? Executive orders. Executive orders, I might add, which have not one blasted thing to do with Israel or Iran. Trust me -- if Israelis were immigrating to the United States there'd be no conservative objection at all, nor would conservatives care to see them deported.
False equivalence just oozes out of that paragraph like offal bubbling up from the LaBrea tar pits. Dark, sticky and stinky, full of toxins.
But wait, there's more!
Mr. Rogers goes on to assign the bulk that 'both sides' crap to the President. Looking back at other times foreign leaders have been invited to a joint meeting of Congress, he concludes that this invitation is without precedent, but not without reason. Nay, there are reasons because when an uppity President does a thing, another thing must answer it.
First that Boehner, who typically yields to presidents on matters of foreign policy, has reached such a level of frustration where he has taken this step. Second, the acrimony in Washington has become so infectious that the Israeli leadership feels free to capitalize on the situation and also cut Obama out of the loop.
Boehner typically yields to "presidents" on foreign policy? WTF, really? Boehner has been in House leadership since the Bush administration and Speaker of the House only during the Obama administration. What are these "presidents" he speaks of where he 'yielded' to them?
All this is happening at a time when Obama is at a crucial stage in what have been tense negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Boehner is said to be immensely frustrated with what he sees as the White House’s failure to keep him more apprised of its thinking. And by inviting Netanyahu, he has turned over the microphone to a prominent critic of the administration’s foreign policy in the Mideast.
Why, that uppity President! Why isn't Boehner right there next to him as he negotiates this deal? Hell, why isn't Boehner negotiating it? Maybe Obama could start calling him before bedtime to share his innermost thoughts, no?
The sheer banality of this is enough to bring that letter opener closer to something solid and satisfying.
Mr. Rogers rolls up his sweater sleeves and ends with this:
Have the two sides learned now they must talk more?
One postscript to the Netanyahu fracas last week suggests not. Obama did call Boehner later but that was only to thank Boehner for helping to move up the date of the State of the Union by a week to allow Obama keep to his planned visit to India.
By the speaker’s account, the controversial invite for the Israeli prime minister went unmentioned.
I'll tell ya what, Mr. Rogers. If your editor told you over and over again that everything you wrote was a piece of crap and unworthy of publication, I sort of doubt you'd speak to that editor either. But your writing might improve. You might learn to actually consider something beyond the optics of a thing and think about what implications it has for our negotiations and negotiating partners when the Speaker of the House intentionally undermines the President of the United States in front of the whole world.
You could try intellectual honesty mixed with a little curiosity. If you did, perhaps I could set my letter opener aside before I did harm to anything.
Charlie Pierce, please pass the antifreeze. If I can't be stabby, I may as well be glassy-eyed and comatose when I read this stuff.