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Lane: In U.S. politics, nobody wins

BY JOE LANE | JANUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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There is a word tossed around in conversations about politics in the United States that seems to be, more than ever, struggling to find a place in our government: bipartisanship. Once an ideal that U.S. people hoped our politicians strove for, bipartisanship has moved so far from the consciousness of this country’s leaders that any occurrences appear to be happenstance. Worst of all, until this past weekend, I thought the trend was headed in the opposite direction.

Last week, according to CNN, President Obama made the bold statement that he did not want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Congress. Netanyahu’s visit to discuss sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program was denied by Obama, fearing that such actions would unravel the delicate coalition that has developed.

This past weekend, however, House Speaker John Boehner made an even bolder move. Without advising Obama or any Democrats in Congress, Boehner, according to Politico, invited Netanyahu to speak. Never before have I felt such conflict in my opinions on a political event.

On the one hand, I feel as strongly as anyone (if not more so) that the United States’ relationship with Israel (although often a source of conflict) is the single most important U.S. alliance. And as such, this relationship ought to be protected.

On the other hand, the lack of bipartisanship exemplified by Boehner’s move to invite Netanyahu is crippling to the advancement of the United States in virtually every respect.

Patrick Griffin, the former White House liaison between President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrinch, explained the scenario perfectly. According to Politico, Griffin said, “There appear to be no rules anymore. If you can do it, do it.”

The ridiculous battleground mentality of campaigning has, over the years, leaked into the government itself.

Although I hope that Boehner invited Netanyahu for legitimate reasons, not the least of which is to prove the importance of our alliance, I find myself questioning his motives. Can I trust that he wants Netanyahu to visit for the sake of the country, or do I have to worry that it’s merely an attempt to undermine the power of the president?

The question remains: Is one person, Obama or Boehner, right? And the answer is an unequivocal no.

That Obama feels it appropriate to ignore the greatest ally we have in the Middle East while providing justifications that are barely sufficient to explain this snubbing and certainly not sufficient for the previous series of tensions, is appalling.

Meanwhile, Boehner’s deliberate decision to go over the head of Obama and belittle Democrats throughout the U.S. government not only hurts bipartisanship but hurts the U.S. public and the international opinion of our government.

The inability of political leaders (in both domestic and foreign affairs) to put aside personal differences and understand that they are representing more than just themselves is detrimental to the greater good. But what scares me the most about this situation is that it very well may be a microcosm for the next few years of American government, one characterized by personal squabbles.


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