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Karl Rove: Obama and Co. Completely 'Bungled' Netanyahu Speech

Karl Rove: Obama and Co. Completely 'Bungled' Netanyahu Speech
Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 05 March 2015 08:43 AM EST

President Barack Obama demonstrated political ineptitude in handling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Iran, Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

Obama's antipathy focused heavily on Israel rather than on Iran. By relentlessly attacking Netanyahu's speech, the president inadvertently gave it far more dramatic value than it would have attracted otherwise, the veteran GOP strategist wrote.

Rove outlined the extent to which the Obama administration mobilized against the premier in the six weeks leading up to the speech.

First, White House spokesman Josh Earnest questioned the propriety of House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu on protocol grounds. Next, the White House said the president would not meet with Netanyahu.

After that, it leaked to The New York Times that administration officials were outraged and "angry" at Netanyahu, wrote Rove.

By early February, Vice President Joe Biden made clear he would boycott Netanyahu and not take his place as president of the Senate. The administration encouraged congressional Democrats to stay away. Some 60 Democratic members of the House and Senate ultimately shunned the Israeli leader, according to Rove.

A group of Senate Democrats, warning that the Netanyahu address was jeopardizing the U.S.-Israel relationship, insisted Feb. 23 on meeting with Netanyahu and threatened that, if he refused, the repercussions would be lasting.

Then National Security Adviser Susan Rice joined the fray, warning in a television interview that Netanyahu's arrival in the capital was "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between Washington and Jerusalem, Rove said.

Secretary of State John Kerry jumped on by questioning Netanyahu's support for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq. "Mr. Kerry neglected to mention that as a U.S. senator in 2003 he voted for the war," Rove noted.

The Obama administration's "unceasing assault" on Netanyahu "took an important address and turned it into a must-see event."

Rove wrote, "With the stage set, the Israeli prime minister, after beginning his address with generous praise about the president's past support of Israel, proceeded to demolish Mr. Obama's arguments one by one. It was a devastating takedown."

Obama would have been wiser to play down the entire affair, agree to see Netanyahu while he was in Washington and, rather than orchestrate a Democratic boycott of the speech, he should have discouraged it, Rove wrote.

Obama has worsened relations not just with Israel but with the Arab states as well, which are no less "fearful of a nuclear Iran," Rove wrote.

Obama's conduct was further proof that he doesn't have the skills to deal with allies when disagreements arise.

"He and his team of public-relations geniuses couldn't have bungled this affair worse had they tried," Rove concluded.

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President Barack Obama and his administration demonstrated political ineptitude with an "unceasing assault" on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for speaking before Congress on Iran, Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
netanyahu, congress, obama, boycott, democrats
Thursday, 05 March 2015 08:43 AM
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