The new Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress of the United States of America declines invitations to official State Dinners of the United States of America – unless George Bush invites him. Apparently. And he thinks it’s okay – or even clever. It is not.
He is the third in line to the Presidency of the United States of America and when this nation formally and most diplomatically entertains the leader of our greatest competitor, a country likely to challenge us for ‘great power’ leadership, he is supposed to be there, supporting his government. It’s his frackin’ job.
FAIL, Mr. Boehner, big time FAIL.
A few words on that from Jena McGregor’s “On Leadership” column in today’s Washington Post.
” [This] marks the third time the Republican leader has skipped a state dinner during Obama’s administration. But [the] rationale that Boehner doesn’t believe in Washington’s pomp apparently didn’t stop him from attending a 2007 state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II during George W. Bush’s presidency. The white tie dinner for more than 100 guests included caviar, champagne and dover sole.
Some etiquette experts have looked aghast at Boehner’s decline. Politics Daily quotes Anita McBride, chief of staff to former First Lady Laura Bush, as saying that “you really have to be sick, dead or dying to regret a state dinner invitation.” Meanwhile, Letitia Baldridge, who was social secretary to President Kennedy, had even sharper words . . . Boehner’s decision was “short-sighted and a failing of his duty.”
[the columnist adds] “he should deal with it for an evening. Leadership requires that people do things they don’t like all the time, whether it’s attending a fancy dinner or negotiating on thorny issues with opponents.
A leader at Boehner’s level should actually want to take every opportunity to present a unified front to other countries.”
Suppose he’s declining these invitations to sit down with foreign heads of State for an altogether and far more troubling reason – suppose he wants allies and adversaries to perceive the leader of our country as weak? If that’s the case, his rudeness does damage to the country he claims to love. China conceivably could see Boehner’s snub as evidence that the United States is a disjointed, politically unstable country.