“Yo mama” (from urbandictionary.com):
A term that precedes an inventive insult to the other person’s mother. 1. “Yo mama” so fat, she have to go downstairs sideways. 2. “Yo mama” so fat when she sits on a rainbow skittles fall out.
Back in the days when guys in the ‘hood actually respected their moms, these words were an invitation to fight, notes the Urban Dictionary. Presumably, the Bloods and the Crips (are these guys still around or am I dating myself?) shouted insults at each other until someone started shooting. Remember the World Cup soccer game in the summer of ’06 when Italy’s Materazzi called France’s Zidane something like “son of a terrorist whore” and Zidane’s headbutting response incurred a penalty that caused France to lose the Cup?
Outside of football and the ’hood, however, this sort of ritual baiting doesn’t take place much these days. But for President Obama, it has become an integral part of his foreign policy. And Vladimir Putin is willing to engage with him. Remember the August ’13 news conference where Obama described Putin as having “that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom?” And a Russian politician responded by posting side-by-side photos of Obama holding his poodle and Putin holding his leopard? And then Putin raised Obama one by annexing the Crimea? Wasn’t that fun!
How about when Obama called ISIS “a JV team” back in January ’14, and ISIS decided to conquer territory across a huge swathe of the Middle East—from Aleppo to Baghdad—while Obama did nothing. A disproportionate response, to be sure, but then who’s JV now, Mr. President?
It’s different, of course, when you insult a First World power, which is too bound by the rules of civilized behavior to respond in kind. For example, remember November 2011 when Obama publicly congratulated French President Sarkozy at the G-20 on the birth of his new daughter via the following announcement: “And I informed Nicolas… that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s, which I think is an excellent thing.” That was a 2-in-1 Yo mama, for not only was Obama calling the proud Frenchman ugly but, given the rumors swirling around the matter of Carla’s affair with another man—and consequently of little Giulia’s paternity—the comment captured a smirking suggestion that if little Giulia did look like either her father or her mother there’d be hell to pay. And this came shortly after he and Michelle shocked the French by turning down a dinner invitation with the Sarkozys.
No response in kind from the French. Neither had there been a response from the Indians when, in 2009, Obama shocked our democratic ally India by calling on the brutal Chicoms in Beijing to help mediate the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, apropos of which the Telegraph noted that “Foreign policy is not [Obama’s] thing. “ The Telegraph just didn’t get Obama’s Yo mama approach to foreign policy. That was back then. Perhaps they’ve cottoned on to it by now.
So when a Kerry operative told the Atlantic that Bibi was “a chickens–t,” that was nothing new. Just another “Yo mama” from the President of the United States. But Bibi and the Republicans in Congress decided to lob a “Yo mama” back at him. Congress invited Bibi to address it on the matter of Iran and nuclear weapons and Bibi accepted, all without even so much as a by-your-leave to the White House. This took balls, and not deflated ones either, as it was an obvious rebuke to Obama’s strategy of empowering Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
It didn’t take long for the White House to Yo mama back, and a Kerry operative delivered it during an interview with Haaretz: “We thought we’d seen everything…. But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
Here’s what I think the Yo mama response should be and it should come from Congress. Continue to invite guests to address the American people on matters of foreign policy where the Obama administration has dismally failed the cause of Democracy. Invite victims who are being oppressed by Obama’s allies, the brutal Islamist regimes of Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and the like. Invite President Sisi of Egypt, whom Obama detests for having ousted the terrorist-supporting Egyptian Brotherhood. Have Sisi talk about his views on the necessity of reforming and modernizing Islam so that it can live peaceably with other religions. He is the first Arabic leader to have made such statements. Surely the American people would benefit from knowing that such moderate Muslim leaders exist.
I note that Congress lacks the authority under the Constitution to “receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers,” a power Article II assigns to the president. I don’t see that as an exclusive grant to the president, however. (What, a Congressman can’t go to a concert at the French embassy or invite the Greek ambassador to dinner?) But even if this were to stretch the Constitution a little, it’s not as if Mr. Elastic Man in the White House has standing to complain about constitutional overreaches.