The diplomatic progress between the United States and Iran is heartening, and offers the first credible reason for optimism on addressing Iran's nuclear program. Advances for U.S. foreign policy, however, are apparently making House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his office sad.
They want more attention for themselves.
Boehner's communications director said it's "shocking" that Obama is talking to Iran, "but not Congress." Around the same time, Boehner's press secretary expressed his dismay that the U.S. president "won't negotiate with Congress on budget issues."
With such willful ignorance, is it any wonder even House Republicans struggle to take Speaker Boehner's office seriously?
This began as an extended whine last week, but as U.S. foreign policy interests advance, it's apparently become a new Republican staple. It shouldn't be necessary to explain the basic details to Boehner and his aides, but since they're either confused or desperate to mislead, let's run through the facts that even House Republican staffers should recognize.
* Obama has offered to negotiate with Congress on budget issues many, many times. He's offered spending cuts; he's offered Medicare reforms; he's even offered chained-CPI. He offered Boehner a $4 trillion "grand bargain," which Boehner turned down at Eric Cantor's urging. What Obama won't do is negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. If Boehner's press secretary doesn't see the difference between this and "budget issues," he's in the wrong line of work.
* It's kind of odd to see House Republicans comparing themselves to the government of Iran. (Then again, if some House Republicans compare themselves to the Taliban, maybe it's not that odd after all.)
* House Republicans don't want to "negotiate" on "budget issues"; they want to present the White House with a list of demands they expect to be met. If the president refuses, Boehner and his caucus have said they're prepared to hurt Americans on purpose -- threats unseen in the United States since the Civil War.
* Iranian President Rouhani is willing to have direct conversations with Obama to discuss their differences. John Boehner is not.
I imagine every conservative media outlet and every Republican lawmaker will nevertheless be trumpeting this talking point, which will no doubt be dominating the Sunday shows. But it's deeply foolish and insulting to Americans' intelligence.