Listen to any foreign-policy hand who’s been in Washington long enough and you’ll hear nostalgia for a time when politics stopped at the water’s edge.
It was the idea that in the foreign-policy realm, it was best if Democrats and Republicans spoke as one.
At the very least, when an American president traveled abroad, the notion was his political opponents back home should desist from criticizing him was the thinking.
That seems quaint in the era of superPACs and social media and it was probably always more honored in the breach during election years. Which is why it was totally predictable that when President Obama was caught on an open microphone telling Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” on European missile defense after his re-election in November, Republicans pounced.
Interestingly, one who didn’t seize the chance to jump on Obama, however, was Speaker John Boehner who rarely misses a chance to use Obama as a foil, and vice versa.
Boehner told reporters Tuesday:
“When the president is overseas, I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country. Clearly what’s gone on in Russia over the last couple of years raises some concerns.”
That certainly made Boehner an outlier with many in his own party. Mitt Romney, the Republican frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, for instance, has used the president’s overheard comment to suggest that Obama may have far-ranging secret plans for his second term across the range of domestic and foreign policy issues.
Something to note, however, is that while Boehner declined to join the Republican attacks of the president for the comment while the president was overseas, he didn’t promise not to start criticizing the president once Air Force One touches down again on U.S. soil.