Forget the 'water's edge' stuff about foreign policy

It’s safe to suggest that the time-honored belief that partisanship ended at “the water’s edge” has now been inundated.

House Speaker John Boehner went to Israel this week and declared that the “world is on fire” and that the United States is doing too little to put it out. He offered a blistering critique of U.S. foreign policy while standing in the capital city of one our nation’s staunchest allies.

It’s a new day. Or perhaps it’s a continuation of an old way of thinking.

I don’t know which it is.

I do know that wherever he is, the late U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg is spinning in his grave.

It was Vandenberg, R-Mich., who criticized politicians for venturing overseas to criticize U.S. policymakers, coining the “water’s edge” definition of bipartisanship.

I’ve always thought it was wise to speak with a single voice, especially when politicians venture abroad to discuss foreign policy matters. Yes, I know that this affinity to blast presidents of the “other party” goes both ways and that Democratic pols have dissed Republican presidents as well as the other way around.

The speaker of the House, though, speaks with forked tongue when he warns of the world going up in flames and then promises to keep speaking out against the president of the United States — even as the world burns.

“I wouldn’t have believed that I would be involved in as much foreign policy as I am today,” Boehner said in Jerusalem. “And it certainly isn’t by choice. It’s just that the world is on fire. And I don’t think enough Americans or enough people in the administration understand how serious the problems that we’re facing in the world are.”

Is the speaker unaware that he well might be fanning those flames when he says such things?


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