It was not so shocking that House Speaker John Boehner would seek to undermine President Barack Obama and his attempt to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to deliver an address to Congress, in which Netanyahu will presumably dump on Obama's efforts. Nor was it so shocking that Netanyahu, who apparently would rather see another war in the Middle East than a deal that allows Iran to maintain a civilian-oriented and internationally monitored nuclear program, agreed to mount this stunt two weeks before the Israeli elections -- a close contest in which the hawkish PM is fighting for his political life. Certainly, Netanyahu realized that this audacious move would strain his already-ragged ties with the Obama administration and tick off the president, who will be in office for the next two years and quite able to inconvenience Netanyahu should he hold on to power. (Even Fox News talking heads acknowledged that Boehner's invitation and Netanyahu's acceptance were low blows.) But what was surprising was how willing Netanyahu was to send a harsh message to American Jews: Drop dead.
For the past six years, one big question has largely defined US politics: Are you for or against Obama? The ongoing narrative in Washington has been a simple one: The president has tried to enact a progressive agenda -- health care, gun safety, a minimum-wage hike, climate change action, immigration reform, Wall Street reform, gender pay equity, expanded education programs, diminishing tax cuts for the rich -- and Boehner and the Republicans have consistently plotted to thwart him. The GOP has used the filibuster in the Senate to block Obama initiatives and routine presidential appointments. The House Republicans have resorted to extraordinary means--shutting down the government, holding the debt ceiling hostage, ginning up controversies (Benghazi!) -- to block the president. All this has happened as conservative allies of the Republican Party have challenged Obama's legitimacy as president (the birth certificate) and peddled vicious conspiracy theories (he's a Muslim socialist who will destroy the nation). Throughout the Obama Wars, one demographic group that has steadfastly stood with the president is American Jews.