Learn from House speakerU.S. President Barack Obama’s political archrival is House Speaker John Boehner. In an interview on Sunday, Boehner praised Obama by saying that his administration handled “a very difficult situation” in Egypt about as well as possible. His statement amounts to an embrace of Obama, who has been under fire for his zigzags in the Egyptian revolution. Boehner said that U.S. intelligence agencies, which developed inaccurate predictions tied to the crisis, should be overhauled.
What attracted the U.S. media’s attention more was the speaker’s remarks that he believed Obama was “a U.S. citizen and a Christian,” defying the views of some 20 percent of U.S. citizens who still believe he is a Muslim. That sort of distortion originates mostly from Obama’s political rivals who don’t want to believe the truth, as explicitly witnessed in their antagonism toward Obama when he supported the idea of building a mosque near New York’s ground zero.
Considering his hard-line political career, Boehner’s remarks sound particularly noteworthy. This is especially so, since as soon as the Republican-controlled House opened on Jan. 19, he took the lead in repealing Obama’s health care reform bill.
An icon of anti-Obama forces has set an excellent example of mature politics. Even though political rivals confront each other on domestic issues, they still speak with one voice on foreign affairs, distancing themselves from personal attacks. Defying his earlier vow to kill Obama’s health care reform - as it would violate the Republican Party’s commitments to small government and a reduction of budget deficits - he has supported Obama’s handling of the Egyptian upheaval by taking a realistic and practical stand to maximize U.S. interests in the Middle East. His ability to say no to conservatives’ efforts to demonize the president over every issue constitutes political courage.
Our politicians should learn from Boehner. Their squabbling over whether to open the special session of the National Assembly made us doubtful of their competence to lead the country at times of crisis. Sharply divided voices within both the ruling and opposition parties over the constitutional revision is another example of bad politics.
It’s as simple as this: When the time comes, they should open the Assembly session and express their different views through votes. And when it comes to foreign affairs, they must speak as one.