The retirement of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), must have been almost as emotional for Benjamin Netanyahu as it was for the even more verklempt than usual Speaker of the House himself. Theirs was a bromance for the ages. And like so many forbidden trysts, #BibiBoehnerGate was full of secrecy and intrigue, backstabbing and a refusal to bow to convention. When Boehner snuck behind President Obama’s back to Invite the Israeli Prime Minister to address Congress, the speaker went against precedent, and, some have argued, the constitution.
And the question on the lips of so many Jews is, of course, is this “good or bad for the Jews?” (Because why is this night different from any other night?) But Bibi’s protectors have nothing to worry about. Because Boehner isn’t the only one who treats Bibi courts Bibi like the Belle of the Ball he most certainly is! Among most U.S. elected officials and politicians, pursuing Netanyahu’s friendship– and bragging about their Bibi-buddy-bonafidas– is extremely trendy. So, for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on the people who are seeking their party’s nomination for the presidential election of 2016.
1. John Boehner: A friendship based deception, Islamophobia and other shared values.
Of course, Boehner is exiting his role as speaker, not attempting to get into the White House. But he’s the Bibi-BFF by which all other aspiring Bibi-buddies must be measured. In March, following Nethanyahu’s race-bating victory, then Speaker used a press conference to show off his friendship with the Prime Minister: “Let me congratulate my friend, Benjamin Netanyahu on his party’s victory this week.” For Boehner and Bibi, it’s the shared values of Islamophobia and hawkishness that unites them: “The prime minister recognizes the grave threats that we face from radical Islam and from Iran,” boasted Boehner about his buddy.
2. Carly Fiorina: Phone buddies.
During the GOP debate in September, Carly Fiorina, stated: “On day one in the Oval office I will make two phone calls the first to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu to assure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second to the Supreme leader to tell him that unless and until he opens every nuclear facility to real anytime inspections by our people not his, we the United States of America will make it as difficult as possible to move money around the global financial system.” It’s hard to know if she’s telling the truth or if she’s being truthy the way she is about Planned Parenthood, and… well… basically everything else she talks about… ever.
3. Mike Huckabee: A rapturous romance.
Fresh off a stumping trip in Israel, where he warned that the Iran deal would bring the end times (which I thought was supposed to be a good thing for someone like Huck), Christian Zionist and former Arkanas Governor Mike Huckabee tweeted the following:
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) August 19, 2015
Huckabee has a reputation for being a friendly guy, but it really says something about his character that Bibi is willing to look past the fact that Huck’s dreams (which happen to be for Armageddon) require that Netanyahu and all other Jews either accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior or, you know, burn in hell for all of eternity. Most of us only dream of finding that kind of connection with someone.
4. Rick Santorum: With leaders like Bibi, who needs the Pope?
Rick Santorum may be Roman Catholic, but he crushes on the leader of Israel way more than he does on the leader of his own actual church, AKA god’s infallible rep on earth, AKA Pope Francis. Here’s what Santorum had to say about the Pope’s radical idea that climate change is, like, a thing, and should be taken seriously: “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science. And I think that we are probably better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.” There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, scientists agree with what the Pope is saying, so if we leave science to the scientists, then acknowledge the overwhelming consensus among scientists that climate change is real and affected by human activity. The other thing that is kinda awkward is that the Pope actually studied science and worked as a chemist. But anyway… Santorum was quick to congratulate Bibi on his victory in March and congratulate himself for being able to call the Prime Minister his friend: “Congratulations to my friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, on his re-election. The Prime Minister has been a true friend to the United States and I join millions of my fellow Americans in congratulating this man of courage, candor, and strength.”
5. Donald Trump: They both love developing real estate.
Trump may be partial to luxury hotels, while Bibi prefers settlement-chic construction, but they are both passionate about expanding their real estate empires. In one of his funnier video commercials (and that’s saying a lot, because have you seen ads for Trump steaks?), The Donald actually endorses Netanyahu, saying, “Vote for Benjamin, terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.” When Hugh Hewitt asked Trump if he would “unequivocally stand by the action of the Netanyahu government” if it acted “unilaterally against Iran because they view this deal as so bad” the mogul responded, “Of course, I will. In fact, he’s a friend of mine. I did commercials for his reelection. And according to what he said, I’m the only celebrity, he’s used the word celebrity, this was a while ago, that did commercials, that he asked to do commercials. But he’s a good man, and I would absolutely stand with him.”
6. Joe Biden: Nothing gets between Biden and Bibi!
During the vice-presidential debate with Paul Ryan in 2012, Biden nearly screamed, “Now, with regard to Bibi, he’s been my friend for 39 years!” In 2014, brought up the friendship once again, during a speech he gave to the Jewish Federations of North America: “I signed a picture for Bibi a long time ago… He’s been a friend for over 30 years. I said ‘Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.'” Like Mary Matalin and James Carville, Bibi and Biden share a love that transcends their differences. Except their relationship is long distance, and they see and marry other people.
7. Hillary Clinton: Tough Love Frenemies.
Hillary almost didn’t make the cut, since her declarations of friendship are less of a humble brag and more of a begrudging gesture. And she certainly doesn’t name drop the way others do. In fact, it’s unclear whether Clinton considers Bibi a friend or just finds it politically expedient to treat him like one: “I learned that Bibi would fight if he felt he was being cornered, but if you connected with him as a friend, there was a chance you could get something done together,” Clinton wrote in her memoirs Hard Choices. She also said, in the same book, that, “Despite our policy differences, Netanyahu and I worked together as partners and friends. We argued frequently, often during phone calls that would go on for over an hour, sometimes two. But even when we disagreed, we maintained an unshakable commitment to the alliance between our countries.” But like high school students who can only withstand peer pressure for so long, Hillary started doing what all the cool kids have been doing, and bragged about just how close she was with Netanyahu. She told Fareed Zakaria, “I’ve known Bibi a long time and I have a very good relationship with him, in part because we can yell at each other, and we do. And I was often the designated yeller.” I guess Bibi likes to be yelled at.