Boehner's invitation of Netanyahu to speak before Congress seems, on the surface, to be an unprecedented undermining of delicate US negotiations in an attempt to gain political advantage.
After all, anyone who has been watching Iran for the last 20 years understands the delicacy with which things must be handled.
It is, first of all, a nation with deep divisions between extreme social conservatives and modernists, in which Stone Agers appeal to the undeveloped rural areas for support while a large number of urban Iranians embrace Western dress and technology, if not its "Girls Gone Wild" excesses.
Second, even within relatively conservative circles, there is conflict between the hard line Guardian Council and more moderate political figures.
This isn't an opinion: The demonstrations following 2009's dubious elections clearly show that the right-wing mullahs do not represent the united voice of the Iranian people.
Nor was it a new development in 2009. I was writing about it in a current-events feature for kids that I did back five years earlier:
The people who get their dysinformation from Rush Limbaugh and Town Hall may not be aware of this, but -- whether they deny it or act upon it -- there's no possible way for a politician on the national stage to avoid knowing it.
Nor is this like the alleged attack on the Maddox and the Turner Joy or the imaginary WMDs or the staged attack on the radio station in which deliberate misinformation was floated by the administration so that even our legislators were suckered into war.
This is as simple as reading the newspapers. This is as easy as consulting the CIA World Factbook.
You cannot not know that Iran is both a deeply divided nation and a powder keg.
Nor is it conceivably possible for any half-way intelligent person to look into the matter at all and not hear a host of nations, both our allies and non-allies, saying that negotiations with Iran, though fraught with issues, are making progress and that everybody needs to just be cool like little Fonzies.
Which reduces the question to John Boehner to something very basic: "WTF, John?"
Haven't enough people died?
Is there some isolated pocket of crazed Islamist extremists somewhere that you feel we have not sufficiently pissed off already?
But let's calm down and re-phrase the question in more diplomatic terms:
Is this an unprecedented undermining of delicate US negotiations in an attempt to gain political advantage?
Yes and no.
Yes, it is obviously an undermining of delicate US negotiations in an attempt to gain political advantage.
But unprecedented? No.
And, while the theory that Reagan made a secret deal with the Iranians to hold the hostages when Carter had nearly worked out a release doesn't hold much water, he didn't mind taking credit for solving the crisis, nor did he mind breaking the law later by offering the hardliners some goodies under the table.
Still, suggesting that Boehner is purposefully trying to sabotage negotiations with Iran, risking yet another war, simply to undermine the Obama administration?