The White House reacted with disdain on Wednesday after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted the administration for an anonymous “chickenshit” insult used to describe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called Boehner’s reaction “pretty rich” because the speaker has also been known to curse.
“It’s an interesting observation by the speaker of the House, whom you all know, has a pension for using some pretty salty language himself. So it’s pretty rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker of the House,” Earnest said.
Pressed on whether Boehner has ever used profanity to describe a world leader, Earnest noted a Politico report quoting Boehner telling Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to “Go f — yourself.”
“He’s reportedly said that about the majority leader of the United States Senate. As long as we’re talking about respect, I think that’s notable,” Earnest said.
Earlier in the day, Boehner released a statement declaring that he was frustrated after watching the White House “insult ally after ally.” The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published the anonymous “chickenshit” quote, attributed to a senior administration official, on Tuesday.
For his part, Earnest strongly condemned the reported insult against Netanyahu and said the US and Israel have a “close relationship.”
“As a general matter not related to that story, I’ll tell you that my job often involves taking the product that you just described and turning it into chicken salad,” he said. “Comments like that do not reflect the administration’s view and we do believe that they are counterproductive. The prime minister and the president have forged an effective partnership. They consult closely and frequently and did so as recently as this month here at the White House, in the Oval Office. There is a very close relationship between the United States and Israel.”
However, Earnest cautioned that the White House will be unafraid to criticise Israel when it believes the country is in the wrong.
“But that close relationship does not mean that we paper over our differences. The fact is the United States has repeatedly made clear our view that settlement activity is illegitimate and only serves to complicate efforts to achieve a two-state solution in the region,” he said.
Boehner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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