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Netanyahu’s Stunt and Public Opinion

In the last post [1] I said I doubted that most Americans would side with Netanyahu. YouGov has released the results of a new poll [2] that suggest I was on the right track:

43% answering that it is inappropriate is a bit lower than I would have expected, but it still shows that there is significant public opposition to this sort of behavior from Congress. There is certainly no majority in favor of it. Barely a third of Americans approves of bringing in a foreign leader to undermine U.S. policy. Since the respondents are aware of the controversy over Netanyahu’s speech, the partisan divide isn’t too surprising. Most Republican respondents are siding with their party leaders in this case, but 30% still consider Boehner’s invitation to be inappropriate. If Boehner thought that he was making a clever political maneuver by bringing in Netanyahu, it seems clear that he badly miscalculated.

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15 Comments To "Netanyahu’s Stunt and Public Opinion"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 29, 2015 @ 4:26 pm

I am disappointed by the results in the republican camp. Inviting a head of state minus any consult from the executive is bizarre.

But demonstrates the utter lack of respect the executive has garnered or demanded. he has in the spirit of cooperation allowed himself to be led as opposed to lead.

I oppose his policies, nit necessarily the man. Eventually, you have to risk a fight. You have to have something of your own you are willing to push back against.

The ACA wasn’t it. That was apolicy designed by the forces he sought to reign in.

#2 Comment By collin On January 29, 2015 @ 4:28 pm

Again in the short run, Bibi is not losing and gaining lots of conservative (especially conservative radio) support. However, in the long run his hawkish ways and pushing the US to act, is making the Ds and younger voters move away from ‘Standing With Israel’ If a R does not get elected, Bibi battles with Obama might make easier for HRC not be as supportive to Israel. (Judging by the reception of Rand Paul last weekend the “I love Koch (Money)!” event, help us if a Republican is elected.

#3 Comment By arrScott On January 29, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

I’d have disappointed Larison if I’d been polled on this question. I don’t think that it’s “inappropriate” as a matter of principle, constitutional or otherwise, for the legislative branch to invite anyone it pleases to address a legislative session. In fact, I tend to think it’s inappropriate to expect the executive branch to have any say about who the legislative branch invites to speak to it. We’re not a monarchy.

That said, I agree with Larson completely about the wisdom of the policy Republicans are pursuing with this stunt. Inviting Netanyahu to address Congress is not “inappropriate.” It is foolish. (It even seems likely to be foolish from the perspective of anyone who shares the conservative goal of sabotaging nuclear negotiations in order to launch a war with Iran. The Netanyahu invitation almost certainly made it less likely, not more, that Congress would achieve the conservative goal of passing a negotiation-sabotaging bill.)

#4 Comment By Uncle Billy On January 29, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

So if we have a Republican in the White House at some future date, and a Democratic Speaker invites foreign leaders to address Congress who are hostile to the President, then that is OK? If I was a Republican running for President, I would not be thrilled at the Speaker trying to undercut the President, regardless of party.

I am no fan of Obama, but I do hope to see a Republican in the White House, hopefully after the 2016 election, and I would like to see the Speaker behave himself with regards to trying to upset the foreign policy applecart.

#5 Comment By Noah172 On January 29, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

Most people are probably giving partisan answers: if the roles were reversed, the results would likely be as well.

#6 Comment By Eric On January 29, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

I’m frankly surprised/dismayed how sharply the answers divide along party lines. Really? If House Democrats bypassed President George W. Bush to invite Jacques Chiraq during the run-up to the Iraq War to come speak to them about what a dumb idea he thought it was, I don’t think many Republicans would have trouble seeing it as a highly inappropriate stunt.

For that matter, I don’t think many Republicans would find it appropriate if liberal members of the Knesset circumvented Netanyahu to have Obama come speak to them about how their Prime Minister is overblowing the Iran threat.

#7 Comment By Pennsylvania Polka On January 29, 2015 @ 10:25 pm

An old saying that seems to have its origins in Foggy Bottom has it that, regardless of party, every president since Truman has left office hating Israel. “Hate” is probably too strong a word for whatever Clinton or G W Bush felt, but it’s sure shaping up that way with Obama.

#8 Comment By sglover On January 30, 2015 @ 1:56 am

Most people are probably giving partisan answers: if the roles were reversed, the results would likely be as well.

Except that I have a really hard time remembering any occasion in the last half-century when the roles have been reversed. In other words, I can’t remember a time when Dem politicians — particularly those in party leadership — actively sought out a foreign leader in order to undercut a Republican president’s foreign policy. But I can easily recall several instances in which Republicans did exactly that.

During his presidential run in 1968, Nixon made slimy attempts to retard peace negotiations by dealing on the sly with the South Vietnamese president (Thieu?). (If that isn’t the very definition of treason, I don’t know what is.) I’ve always assumed there was merit to the rumors about the 1980 “October Surprise”, and Reagan’s campaign. And let’s not forget that this latest Republican stunt with Netanyahu isn’t a first act, it’s an encore.

If you can point to counterexamples, with Dems and Republicans in opposite roles, I’d be genuinely grateful for the history lesson. But right now, I can’t think of any analogous Dem behavior since maybe Kennedy in ’60.

#9 Comment By Emilio On January 30, 2015 @ 7:26 am

Congress disgraces itself doing this, but otherwise it is evident buffoonery that will backfire, as has been stated. Obama should just watch and laugh at Bibi and the Republicans: with enemies like these, who needs friends?

I wonder how many Democrats (and Republicans!) will have spine to be absent from the self-debasement?

#10 Comment By SDS On January 30, 2015 @ 9:32 am

“Hate” is probably NOT too strong for their private feelings…..

They probably recognize more than anyone how much of a millstone Israel has been around America’s neck….
The American people can easily ignore it; except for the times it intrudes on our lives here; like 9/11, etc….

The jury is still out on whether we can keep swimming this way…..

#11 Comment By yoty topy On January 30, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

Majority of the Jewish community voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, twice! When he insults the presidency , he is insulting the Jewish community. I do not believe Obama will do anything drastic because that would be stooping to BN’s level but I think the Jewish lobbying group should rebuke him.

#12 Comment By HP On January 31, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

The thing I find striking, as a European conservative, is how deeply unpatriotic the Republican Party is. However much you might hate the dems and Obama (which already is deeply problematic in itself, since it basically means that you hate half of your people) damaging the institutions of your country out of partisan passion is simply impossible to excuse. I’m not saying things are better on this side of the big puddle mind you.

#13 Comment By EngineerScotty On January 31, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

For that matter, I don’t think many Republicans would find it appropriate if liberal members of the Knesset circumvented Netanyahu to have Obama come speak to them about how their Prime Minister is overblowing the Iran threat.

One advantage of unicameral parliamentary systems is this sort of thing simply doesn’t happen. While liberal Israeli politicians could invite Obama to speak privately, I suspect they could not control the gavel or the docket of the Knesset–and if they did, they would be able to appoint the government of Israel, so there would be no Netanyahu to undermine.

#14 Comment By Carol On February 1, 2015 @ 2:59 pm

Where was this poll taken? Everyone I have talked to se KS think its great Boehner grew a pair & did something w/o checking with b.o.! I think Caroline Glick & Catherine Engelbrecht should be invited, but what do I know? I’m just a middle-aged white redneck woman in ‘flyover country’, so my opinion means nothing to you college-educated people.

#15 Comment By Jonathan On February 4, 2015 @ 8:12 am

At the very least, the Administration was informed.

Correction: January 30, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.