Opinion

Obama just can’t get respect from GOP leaders in Congress

House Speaker John Boehner, right, looks on as President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Jan. 20.
House Speaker John Boehner, right, looks on as President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Jan. 20. AP

Republicans in Congress, whose disdain for Barack Obama has been evident since the president was first elected, continue to show disrespect for the man and the office.

The insolent leaders, from the vow to try to make Obama a one-term president to becoming major obstructionists to practically every meaningful thing the administration has attempted to do, can’t seem to get over the fact the American people twice have chosen this man to be their leader.

It is one thing to ignore the good the president has done, basically saving the country on the brink of economic disaster. But it is another to constantly act like brash junior high school bullies who want to embarrass and intimidate the leader of their country.

Of course, in their urge to sully the president, they usually bring humiliation to themselves.

Whether it’s a representative shouting, “You lie” during a speech by Obama to a joint session of Congress or Republicans applauding during this year’s State of the Union address when the president said, “I have no more campaigns to run,” the utter discourteous behavior by these leaders is disheartening.

The president doesn’t need me to defend him, as he’s quite capable of deftly handling his critics.

For example, his comeback line after the applause from the GOP side of the aisle during the State of the Union (“I know because I won both of them”) was as quick and sharp as any good standup comedian handling a drunken heckler.

But the latest, and perhaps more damaging, insult to our commander in chief came the day after the State of the Union when House Speaker John Boehner announced that he had invited — without consulting the administration — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

Adding to that disrespectful gesture was Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation before informing the White House of his plans.

In this case Boehner and Netanyahu, who’s up for re-election this year, are co-conspirators in their attempt to get Obama to go along with more sanctions on Iran at a time when the U.S. (with five other world powers) is in negotiations with Iran about ending its nuclear program.

Presumably Netanyahu would tell Congress during his March 3 speech what a great threat Iran and “Islamist terrorists” are to Israel, the region and the rest of the world.

The speech is intended to do two things: add pressure to lawmakers to pass the bill calling for more sanctions, and give the prime minister a prominent spot on the world stage two weeks before the Israeli elections.

Obama has said that imposing more sanctions would sabotage the talks on nuclear weapons and allow Iran to blame America for the breakdown.

He has threatened to veto any such legislation.

The Boehner/Netanyahu maneuver may already be backfiring on both. Even some conservatives think that the speaker erred when he failed to follow protocol when inviting the prime minister, and there are those in Israel who believe that their leader violated a code of conduct — at the risk of further alienating the U. S. president — by participating in the scheme.

In addition, Roll Call reported Tuesday that 10 Democratic senators on record supporting the bill have sent a letter to the president saying they would not vote for it as negotiations continue, at least until March 24.

It wouldn’t surprise me if somehow Netanyahu’s trip were postponed or canceled altogether, especially since Obama has said he will not meet with the prime minister while he’s here.

But regardless what happens on this front, Republicans will look for other ways to disrespect the president.

Boehner apparently is exploring more litigation against Obama, this time to block the president’s executive order on immigration.

It’ll never end, at least not until this president is out of office.

Cue GOP applause sign.

Bob Ray Sanders' column appears Sundays and Wednesdays.

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