Bibi Netanyahu does damage control with Harry Reid and others -- and Harry says hell yes, he's running for reelection
At his Washington home, recuperating Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday of his upcoming reelection, "I’m running, and that’s all I can say, okay?"
"There have been partisan recriminations in Washington and Israel over the speech, with accusations that Speaker John A. Boehner, who extended the invitation, and Mr. Netanyahu were exploiting the situation for political gain. Mr. Netanyahu faces voters on March 17 in a contest in which national security and Iran could be significant factors. Democrats in Congress have said Mr. Boehner is trying to undermine Mr. Obama and weaken his ability to govern, a charge that Mr. Boehner disputes."
-- from "Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to
Little Effect So Far," by Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters
Little Effect So Far," by Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters
House Speaker "Sunny John" Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have done themselves less political good than they reckoned with their scheme to bypass protocol and have Bibi speak to Congress on invitation of the speaker -- without, not just consultation with, but even a heads-up to, the White House. Bibi is known to have called severeal Capitol Hill Dems: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, as the paper's Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters report in "Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to Little Effect So Far."
Senator Reid was full of information last night. In the course of that interview, Hulse reports in this morning's NYT "FirstDraft" e-mail, the senator had some emphatic news of his own regarding his decision whether to run for reelection next year. Hulse reports:
Will he or won’t he? That’s what people in political circles are asking about the re-election plans of Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, as he recuperates at his home in Washington from serious injuries suffered in an accident while exercising.
Given that he is 75 years old, has just undergone surgery to restore vision in one eye and has seen his party lose the Senate majority, some are betting that Mr. Reid will forego another difficult election in Nevada in the next year.
Well, he wants people to rest assured: He is running for re-election, and he cannot say it clearly enough.
“All I can say is what I keep saying, I’m running,” Mr. Reid said in an interview on Thursday at his Washington home. “I’m running. And that’s all I can say, O.K.? I’m just saying, I’m running.”
Despite his recent absence from the Capitol while tending to his health, Mr. Reid said that he had been deeply engaged in his party’s strategy during the new Congress’ first month and that Democrats were off to a strong start as they adjusted to their new role. And for those worried about his whereabouts, he intends to spend more time on Capitol Hill beginning next week.
We will have more from our interview with Mr. Reid later on Friday about both his recovery and how he has turned his home into a congressional office.
NOW, BACK TO BIBI'S BACK-SLAPPING BLITZ
Here's how Hulse and Peters begin their report:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has been reaching out to leading Capitol Hill Democrats to try to ease criticism over his coming address to Congress, but has made little progress.Harry says he told Bibi "he believed Mr. Boehner had been out of bounds in offering the speaking invitation," and Nancy Pelosi says she warned him that the speech “could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance.”
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu had called him the previous afternoon to explain why the White House had been circumvented before he was invited to speak before Congress. The prime minister has also called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat.
The calls came at a delicate time. Congress is split over whether to impose further sanctions on Iran as the United States and Tehran negotiate a possible freeze to its disputed nuclear program. President Obama has said any vote on sanctions would jeopardize the talks. Mr. Netanyahu, who is to address the issue in his congressional speech, and many pro-Israel lawmakers in Congress have urged a hard line.
Mr. Netanyahu’s office confirmed Thursday that he had called Democrats and “other friends” in Congress in recent days, and that he “reiterated that the survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.”
Mr. Reid, a strong supporter of Israel, said in an interview that he had had a candid conversation with Mr. Netanyahu. He said he had advised the prime minister that the speech, scheduled for March, had become such a problem that some Democratic senators had backed off their support of the quick imposition of new sanctions on Iran.
“It’s hurting you,” Mr. Reid said he told Mr. Netanyahu. “I said: ‘You have to understand this. I’m not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective.’ ”
“It would have been wrong for me to say, ‘Don’t come,’ ” said Mr. Reid, who is recovering at his home in Washington from a serious exercise accident he sustained Jan. 1. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Meanwhile, the tension over the politics of the event has cast a spotlight on Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Miami Beach native Ron Dermer, generally considered Bibi's closest adviser, who has strong ties to the U.S. right-wing political apparatus and is believed by White House advisers (notably Denis McDonough and Ben Rhodes) to have been actively fomenting opposition to the president in the U.S. According to the Hulse-Peters NYT report, "Mr. Dermer had worked with Mr. Boehner to arrange the speech without telling the White House."
" 'BIBI'S BRAIN' COMES TO WASHINGTON"
"'Bibi's Brain' Comes to Washington" was the head on Ron Kampeas's December 2013 Politico report on Ron Dermer's installation as Israel's U.S. ambassador. The deck read: "Ron Dermer was a GOP operative. Now he's back as Israel's ambassador. Can he save this troubled relationship?"
Or maybe make more trouble?