You can tell when the dittohead memo has gone out from GOP headquarters, because not only do so many on the far right start making the same point, but you see it repeated and repeated and endlessly repeated in tweets flying across your screen.
In this case, the current GOP Tweet Theme of the Week is, "So, Obama can find time to meet w/ YouTube video star who puts peanuts up her nose, but not meet Israel pres Netanyahu."
It's one of those times I oh-so dearly wish that Twitter allowed more than 140 characters. Because no meaningful response in so few words does it justice. But 140 characters is the limit, so I have left my Twitter feed un-replied.
Same, too, when the GOP Tweet Theme of the Week just before it was, "So, Obama can't find time to go to France to protest terror and honor the dead."
("Finding the time" is apparently a really big deal to the far right.)
Happily, though, I get more than 140 characters on these pages. And often take full advantage of that quirk of fate, as readers here have long-since discovered... So, just look at this response below as a 140-character tweet, expanded magically through use of iBob Technology.
@relisberg Whenever I see a political discussion where the outraged, slamming criticism of a political figure is their supposedly not being able to do something of little substance, like -- in these recent cases -- supposedly not having the time to meet someone or not having the time to go to a protest, I know that those critics have no better or actual criticisms to make about the person. I mean, seriously, if they did, if they really, truly had a deeply meaningful point of powerful and valid criticism, don't you think they'd make that argument, rather than, "I hate him because he went to a basketball game"?
It's like if you got into an argument with your ex-girlfriend who just delivered a scathing, pointed 10-minute diatribe against you for your relentless cheating, continual thoughtlessness, irresponsibility, coldness, perpetual rudeness, lying and stealing, using specific irrefutable examples, photographic evidence and tape recordings -- and when she was done, you stared at her a moment and said, "Well...you leave your skirts and blouses on the floor!"
There are many perfectly good reasons why President Obama didn't go to France, even if he probably should have sent a better envoy in his place. For most of the European leaders, it was probably an hour-long train ride to get there. For the U.S. President, it was a journey across the ocean. The event, while very moving, was also largely a photo-op by an unpopular French president up soon for re-election. And besides, most conservatives always say how much they hate France, so it's unlikely that they actually wanted the president to go. Besides which, if he did go, you can bet cash money many would likely have criticized him saying, "With all the problems in the U.S., what is Obama doing vacationing in France for $100 million a day at the taxpayers' expense?!"
The larger point being, as I said, that if you have real criticisms, you don't lead with, "Why didn't Obama go to France??!" But then, with unemployment down to 5.8%, job growth up for the 53rd straight month, the budget deficit down by a trillion dollars, and health care spending plummeting, you don't have much to complain about -- so you go with the "Why didn't he go to France for the photo op" thing.
And it's the same with conservatives getting the vapors over the president meeting a YouTube star and not meeting the Prime Minister of Israel.
Actually, not it's not the same, but a far worse complaint.
First, if anyone thinks that President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu don't talk All The Time, then they aren't trying to think very hard. Of course they are in frequent contact, but the deceitful implication about their not "meeting" face-to-face is to suggest that they don't and aren't in communication. Which is utter, ignorant foolishness.
And if anyone thinks that any president makes up his own social schedule and himself marks down "Meet with YouTube" star -- they aren't thinking very hard with that either. There are some banal things that the president just has to always do, like pardoning a turkey or meeting with every college sports champion. It's part of the job description. "Americans like this sort of thing, Mr. President. Just go out there and smile. You can be pissed off at us later for setting it up."
And if anyone thinks that meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel is any way even remotely the same kind of meeting as with a YouTube star with even remotely the same kind of consideration that goes into scheduling...I'm sorry, you're just not trying.
But the reason it's mainly far, far worse than other faux-criticisms is because the very reason that Benjamin Netanyahu is even here is...disgracefully reprehensible.
For the Republican Congress to usurp foreign policy, which is the dominion of the President of the United States and the State Department, and invite the Prime Minister of another country to address the House of Representatives and, in doing so, lobby the U.S. government under those conditions...is beyond the realms of decency.
United States foreign policy must speak with one voice, and that voice is the president's
And for anyone on the far right who doesn't think this invitation is so deeply shameful, then reverse the situation. Imagine when George W. Bush was president if the Democratic House went out on their own and, without consulting the White House or the State Department, invited a foreign leader to address them. I imagine the outcry would be so piercing that we would still be hearing it. Ad they'd have been right. But we'll never know because Democrats didn't do that.
Of course, it worse than even all that, because Prime Minister Netanyahu isn't just using the House of Representative as a base to lobby for his beliefs -- but he's using it as a platform for his re-election campaign, with Israeli elections a mere two weeks after the scheduled appearance. An election for which Mr. Netanyahu is in seriously trouble. (A Jerusalem Post poll last month showed that 60% of Irsraeli's didn't want the Prime Minister to stay in office.. Being invited by the U.S. Congress is a nice campaign bump for him.
So, forgetting all the other reasons, it is not unreasonable to think that the President of the United States might believe it is a highly inappropriate thing for him to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister two weeks before that nation's election and involve himself in their political process.
And even more inappropriate for the Republican Congress to do so.
And yet, as irresponsible as it is for Congress to do this and have gone around U.S. foreign policy to invite Israel's head of state to address them, we still return to the original and very basic point --
When people doesn't have real, actual, substantive complaints about the President of the United States...then they whine about who he shouldn't be having a meeting with.
People flail around and whine about little things when they can't think of important things to complain about.
And this is flailing around and whining about a very little thing. Because, beyond all that was said here, is a very notable point left out of the far right's crocodile tears -- when John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak...he didn't tell the president. And when Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the invitation to speak...he didn't tell the president. Somehow you'd think that if any of them actually wanted the Israeli Prime Minister to meet face-to-face with President Obama...someone would have told him.
But they didn't. And it's meaningless anyway because -- because --
Because people flail around and whine about little things when they can't think of important things to complain about.
If unemployment was skyrocketing, if jobs were plummeting, if the budget deficit was erupting and health care costs rising, if the American public was all up in arms over presidential actions on relations with Cuba and immigration, ...how many people think that Republicans and the far right wouldn't be taking every last spare moment they could find to shout about all of that -- and as loud as they could from every roof top -- and not waste a single second of previous air space distracting their focus by complaining about trips to France and appointment schedules?
Ah, good! And I was able to write all that in just 149 characters!!!
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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