On Sunday’s Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd took House Speaker John Boehner to task for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without notifying the White House ahead of time.
During an interview with Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Todd accused Boehner of trying to “antagonize the relationship between the two sides" and wondered "is that worth doing?”
Todd began his questioning of Ryan by suggesting Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was extremely inappropriate and would cause further problems between the two allies:
Is it appropriate for Congress to invite a world leader to address them without telling the president...Do you think that the Netanyahu thing -- do you to think that this was sort of getting involved in foreign policy in a way that maybe the legislative branch shouldn’t have done that to the executive?
For his part, Ryan pushed back and insisted that Boehner’s decision was “fine” before maintaining that Americans should “look at the constitution. These are three separate but equal branches of government. We don't subserve one to the other.”
Todd continued to press Ryan on how “this hasn’t happened before” and then fretted that Boehner was trying to “antagonize” the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama.
Nowhere in Todd’s line of questioning did he bother to mention that President Obama had refused to meet with Netanyahu and instead played up Speaker Boehner’s supposed role in antagonizing the situation even further.
Todd's attitudes towards Boehner’s invitation is not surprising given past statements he has made on the issue. During an appearance on NBC’s Today on Sunday, January 25, Todd found no fault in Obama for refusing to meet with Netanyahu and instead blamed Netanyahu for the poor relationship between the two:
The impact is probably going to more acute potentially in Israel itself. I mean this is about Prime Minister Netanyahu, he’s in an election year and one of the criticisms he’s gotten is for strained relationships with President Obama.
See relevant transcript below.
NBC’s Meet the Press
February 1, 2015
CHUCK TODD: Was it appropriate, I want to quickly, is it appropriate for Congress to invite a world leader to address them without telling the president?
PAUL RYAN: I think it’s fine.
TODD: Do you think that the Netanyahu thing -- do you to think that this was sort of getting involved in foreign policy in a way that maybe the legislative branch shouldn’t have done that to the executive?
RYAN: So, look at the constitution. These are three separate but equal branches of government. We don't subserve one to the other.
TODD: This hasn't happened before.
RYAN: Well, I don't know. You could probably go back into history and maybe find an example. Do I think it’s wholly appropriate that the Speaker of the House of a separate but equal branch of government is free to invite a foreign leader to address us? Absolutely.
TODD: To antagonize the relationship though between the two sides, is that worth doing?
RYAN: I don't know if I would say it’s antagonizing. And I think we would like to hear from the leader of Israel about his thoughts on Iran. Look, by the way, the president's policies with Iran have bipartisan concern. Huge bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate are very worried about the handling of these negotiations. Iran playing us and the delay of these negotiations. So I would argue that there are -- there is concern on both sides of the aisle about how the president is handling this situation. And I think it is totally appropriate that we have Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, come and address us with his thoughts.