“Lincoln Bedroom Or The American People’s House?” expressed my objection to the partisan practice of placing the American People’s House for hire by the foreign dignitary favored by the majority du jour. (The “Lincoln Bedroom” alluded to a practice Bill Clinton inaugurated of renting out this White House bedroom to big-time donors and political pals.)
As explained, “it was an abomination when Mexican President Felipe Calderon was allowed to address the Congress in May of 2010, and it is an abomination for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have been permitted to issue forth before a joint session of the American Congress.”
Rep. Steve Cohen, Democrat from Tennessee, and obviously Jewish, had expressed similar disdain for the spectacle, in an official statement:
Speaker Boehner and other Republicans supporting the speech are giving a foreign leader the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as a forum to present a counterargument to the foreign policy peace efforts of the President of the United States who has constitutional authority over foreign affairs. This speech is high theater for a re-election campaign in Israel and a political tool wielded against our President and his Administration by the Speaker of the House.
It is almost certain that, unlike this scribe, Cohen will have proven inconsistent: He likely objected not at all to the Democrats’ choice to pimp the Chamber to their pet client state of Mexico.
Nevertheless, Rep. Steve Cohen’s allusions, after the speech, to “political theatre” are reasonable too:
It was putting Netanyahu on an equal level with the president of the United States,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “And that was wrong.”
UPDATE: Via CNN:
BLITZER: We’ve now just heard from the president of the United States. He’s in a meeting with the new secretary of defense, Ash Carter. And reporters were inside at the start of that meeting. The president said he did not have a chance to watch the Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before a joint meeting of the United States Congress but he did say he read the transcript, and then added pointedly there was, in his words, “nothing new.” We’ll get that videotape, play it for the viewers as soon as that pool comes out of the Oval Office in the White House.
Let’s get more reaction, a different perspective. Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen is joining us from Tennessee.
Congressman, you didn’t want to attend the meeting. You didn’t attend the meeting. I assume you watched it, though, on television, right?
REP. STEVE COHEN, (D), TENNESSEE: I watched it with a group of AIPAC’s representatives from Memphis, about 15, in my office.
BLITZER: What’s your reaction? Did the prime minister convince you?
COHEN: It was a — no, he didn’t convince me. It was political theater and that’s why I didn’t attend. It used the chamber to put him in a position that the president is often in, address the Congress at the State of the Union. This puts him on equal footing with the president of the United States. I thought that was wrong. I wasn’t going to be part of it. I didn’t attend.
I think the political theater was worthy of an Oscar. It was a great speech for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reelection in Israel, a good speech for Speaker Boehner connecting to the AIPAC and the Jewish republican force that was here, but it was not a good speech for the future of having a denuclearized Iran. That conversation should be taking place in Geneva, not here in Washington before the cameras. I’m afraid it created a greater schism between the president and the prime minister. And that’s not good for Israel and not good for world peace.
BLITZER: I’m sure that the relationship, which was bad to begin with, is a whole lot worse right now, that personal relationship between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel.
But on the substance, when he said, this current deal is really bad, will undermine potentially Israel’s very existence, what do you say?
COHEN: Well, he doesn’t know what the deal is. And he wouldn’t be in favor of any deal. He talked about a Persian bazaar and you walk away and they go back, and, oh, mister, mister, I’ll take this price. It’s not the same thing. If the Iranians have shown they don’t necessary make a deal. If they don’t make a deal, they’re not going to be down on their knees. They’re going to bend their back, straighten up their back and they may be tougher. I think it will hurt. 200 Israeli generals and security officials said this drives us further away from a good deal with Iran and I think it drove us away. BLITZER: Steve Cohen, the Democratic congressman from Tennessee,