Seldom does a week go by in which a politician does not do something offensive. The most common offensive act is usually of the racial or sexist variety, although some venture into the socioeconomic territory.
In the 2006 Virginia Senate race, incumbent George Allen lost his election as a result of what has been dubbed the “Macaca moment.” Macaca was the term Allen used in reference to an Indian American who was a field operative from his opponent’s campaign. Allen claimed the term was simply gibberish, while opponents attributed racial slurs to the etymology of the word. Allen never recovered, and his Macaca moment is now carved into stones of American political history.
Other examples of racially offensive moments would include every time a politician refers to President Obama as a Muslim or questions the legitimacy of his birth certificate.
While the litany of offensive sexist comments is too long and distinguished to choose a “best,” how about Senator Arlen Specter in 2010? While debating fellow Republican Michele Bachman on a radio show, Specter felt as though she was talking too much, possibly interrupting him, so he told her, “I’m going to treat you like a lady, now act like one.”
Sometimes politicians are inadvertently offensive, choosing the wrong date or location to deliver an ill-received message. For instance, in January 2014, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would be “A sweeping piece of legislation that would affect nearly all women in this country,” according to Susan Woods, a professor at George Washington University. The entire subcommittee comprised only men. It is offensive that 12 men have the power and the gall to take it upon themselves to legislate on behalf of over 160 million American women.
Politicians are also notoriously offensive for pandering, being disingenuous … lying. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when pandering becomes an outright lie, but it is nevertheless offensive.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is probably the king of being disingenuously offensive. For instance, he campaigned for months about being the champion of coal and coal workers. Since being reelected he has only championed Canadian oil companies and the Keystone XL pipeline.
McConnell has also spent the majority of his last five-plus years fighting Obama on the Affordable Care Act, knowingly deceiving people — I would argue lying — about the legislation, and preying on people’s fears. While again, there are too many examples of McConnell’s offensive attacks on our intelligence, my personal favorite — which got no traction during his campaign due to the media’s obsession over for whom Alison Grimes voted for president — is that McConnell declared his replacement of Obamacare being a bigger, more expansive version of Obamacare. He said, in short, that he wanted to, “Create a national, competitive health insurance market. Pit all the insurance companies against each other.” That is what Obamacare is. Mitch knows that and it is offensive that he would pretend otherwise.
Picking the scab of these old wounds is not gray, snowy-winter masochism. I rehash these eye-rolling, blood-boiling moments because I am personally offended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S.
For starters, I find it offensive that Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner conspired to arrange for the PM to address Congress at a time that is absolutely the most politically advantageous moment for the PM, all without the cooperation or notification of the president, America’s chief of state.
And then there is Netanyahu’s intention to use the speech to influence U.S. policy and negotiations with Iran. Beyond his own political success in his upcoming election, he is a reckless warmonger who cloaks his own thirst for supremacy in the guise of righteousness on behalf of all Jews and the veil of U.S. protection. The PM knows the U.S. will always be ready to defend Israel at all cost, which we should. However, Netanyahu, one of the world’s foremost prima donnas, is looking to start a fight and hide behind his bodyguards.
Finally, the PM declared that when he speaks before Congress he is speaking on behalf of all Jews. Senator Dianne Feinstein said this was an “arrogant statement.” I would also call it offensive. Netanyahu is the democratically-elected prime minister of the state of Israel, and he is anointing himself the pope of all Jews.
There will be over 50 members of Congress who boycotted the PM’s address (including my dad, Rep. John Yarmuth). They are all Democrats and they should all be applauded for demonstrating that they support the interests of these United States, not Netanyahu’s personal ambitions. But ultimately, we should all find it offensive that Israel’s prime minister has created a partisan issue out of the once sacred bipartisan issue that is Israel’s security. This is an unforgivable offense.