48 thoughts on “Bibi: You Don’t Speak for Me. Cancel the Speech – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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        1. @ Ariel: I have read that article & virtually every article published on the subject and in none of those published by credible media sources does it remotely claim the White House knew about the invitation. Boehner never notified the White House nor has he ever claimed that he did. Not to mention, I would never believe a word out of Dermer’s mouth. Anything he says is suspect. He would sell his bubbeh to help Bibi.

          In fact, yours is a false claim. Remember, I do not accept false claims offered here as true. Another comment violation.

          1. @ ariel: You made an error in your comment. Bernstein says the NYT corrected its story to say that Bibi accepted Boehner’s invitation after the White House had been informed. This is a meaningless distinction. Tradition calls upon the president and minority party to be notified before an invitation is offered, not after. It doesn’t matter when Bibi accepted the inviation.

          2. @Richard
            “none of those published by credible media sources does it remotely claim the White House knew about the invitation”
            “Bibi accepted Boehner’s invitation after the White House had been informed”

            From the media it was seemed as if both invitation and acceptance were done before WH knew which Bernstein corrects (even if he takes it one step too far).
            It still may have broke protocol but not as boldly as was presented before.

          3. @ Ariel: As I wrote earlier, it was a distinction without a difference. There is a protocol about extending invitations to foreign leaders to speak before Congress. It requires that the majority party inform both the minority party and the president BEFORE the invitation is made OR offered. The GOP violated this protocol. There is no such thing as a “bold” violation and a milder violation of protocol. If this was the type of mild violation you claim then it wouldn’t have raised as big a stink as it has.

        2. It is easy to spot where Bernstein plays a pea ‘n’ thimble trick with the truth.

          DB: “the New York Times reported, incorrectly, that Netanyahu accepted the invitation before the White House had been informed of it.”

          Note that point: Boehner had already extended that invitation before informing the White House, which meant that they heard about it just moments before Netanyahu accepted that invitation i.e. the White House was the last to know that this was even happening.

          DB: “Ed Lasky notes that a visit like this is not exactly unprecedented: ‘In 2011, Boehner sent a notice to the WH stating his intention to invite Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress. The White House never responded (spite? incompetence?) and Boehner proceeded to extend the invitation to Netanyahu.’ ”

          Note the big difference i.e. In 2011 Boehner informed the White House **BEFOREHAND**, and it was only **AFTER** there was no objection that the invitation was extended to Netanyahu, meaning that Netanyahu was the last to know about it.

          But in 2015 Boehner only informed the White House **AFTER** handing out that invitation, which meant that Netanyahu knew about it before Obama knew about it.

          Clearly those are two very different circumstances.

          In 2011 the White House had no reason to complain precisely because Boehner gave them the opportunity to raise an objection before this became public knowledge.

          But in 2015 he had already offered the invitation, and so the Obama Administration is perfectly correct to be outraged.

          Honestly, this isn’t rocket science.

          1. @ Yeah, Right: But isn’t it amazing that Bernstein is a professor of law at George Mason University, which I suppose is a home to such libertarian extremism. Yet he’s not even slick enough to evade your bullshit detector?

      1. Calling someone a libertarian and a neocon in the same sentence is hilarious, it shows you don’t know what at least one of those words actually means.

        1. (Unless, of course, you are using “neocon” colloquially as many on the left do to mean “damn Jew whose opinions I don’t like,” but you’d never do that, because you’re not anti-Semitic, right?)

          1. @ David Bernstein What insipidness. I have comment rules here. If you say or even imply that I am anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew you are violating of my comment rules. Don’t even come close to doing that again. I’ll ban you so fast your head will spin. And I would do it just as quickly with someone who really was an anti-Semite (and have).

            As for “neocon” meaning “damn Jew” that definition only exists in Professor Bernstein’s Dictionary of Inspid Self-Pitying, Faux Anti-Semitic Terms. page 46.

            Though you & your views are odious, I’d think you could behave as if you’re house-trained. Though perhaps it’s too much to expect of people like you.

          2. DB: “(Unless, of course, you are using “neocon” colloquially as many on the left do to mean “damn Jew whose opinions I don’t like,” but you’d never do that, because you’re not anti-Semitic, right?)”

            Well, that’s proven at least one point: whatever else David Bernstein might be, he most definitely is a neocon.

            After all, only a neocon can pull off the “arrogant whinge” quite so convincingly.

            Well done, David!

        2. You concede you’re a libertarian but dispute that you’re a necon. I’d classify anyone who supports U.S. wars in the Middle East & supports Israel’s wars against Arab & Muslim peoples to be a neoncon. If you prefer being called a pro-Israel hasbaroid, that’s fine with me.

          This American Conservative article is only a bit overstated in its definition of “neoconservative.” Otherwise, it presents the matter quite well. So if the shoe fits, I’m afraid you’ll have to wear it.

          Do let us know just in case you can offer us proof that you’ve opposed Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our interventionist anti-terror policies in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan,etc., and sanctions and bellicose policy toward Iran.

          1. The American Conservative definition of neoncon as those who believe “American greatness is measured by our willingness to be a great power—through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement,” is not bad, though it should added that they believe that the purpose of all this is to spread democracy, not to become an empire. That said, I don’t believe anything of the kind.

            As for you own idiosyncratic definition of neocon, since you’re the one who made the claim, why don’t you provide evidenced that I’ve ever said anything at all about most of those, much less supported any of them?

          2. David Bernstein: I’ve asked you in a previous comment to point to a U.S. intervention in the past 15 yrs which you’ve opposed including wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, drone-killings throughout the Muslim world, and aggression against Iran. Alternatively, tell us which Israeli military intervention in frontline states have you opposed? Which of those did you oppose & show us where you opposed them.

            My questions are simple enough for you to answer.

          3. I don’t believe I’ve publicly expressed on opinion on any of these, one way or another. Believe it or not, my views are nuanced, and I don’t have enough confidence in them, not being an expert nor privy to the relevant intelligence info, to think my views on most of those issues are worth sharing. But feel free to just assume that everyone who disagrees with you about any or all aspects of Israeli policy fits into some simple caricature that you’ve invented.

          4. @ David Bernstein: Really. You have no opinion on what is virtually the heart of U.S. national security policy since 9/11? That is, the two major wars we’ve fought in the past 15 yrs in which we’ve killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, not to mention our indiscriminate drone killings. You have no opinion on this? Who are you kidding?

            And you have no opinion on Israel’s serial assaults on frontline states?

            You’re either disingenuous or an idiot. Since you’re not an idiot, it has to be the alternative.

            You are a caricature, but one you yourself has created.

          5. Yes, Richard, I was someone who believed the U.S. needed to get Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but was afraid that military action would ultimately result in foolhardy “nation-building.” I was happy to have Saddam pushed out of power, but wasn’t persuaded he was an imminent threat to anyone, that U.S. military intervention would end well, or that the U.S. would run any war in a wise way. You see, as noted, I’m a libertarian, and I have little faith in the competence of government to, say, run Amtrak, so I have even less confidence in its ability to fulfill the neocon vision of advancing democracy through military and other means. OTOH, unlike far leftist types like yourself, I don’t confuse American incompetence and blundering with the evils of (in the old days) Communism, or today, Islamic extremism.

            Meanwhile, I’m sure I could predict your views on any given issue just by saying “what would a typical leftist say about this issue?” Can you point to any post in which you’ve ever challenged the conventional leftist wisdom on ANYTHING? Being a standard anti-Israel, anti-American leftist doesn’t make you brave, it doesn’t make you smart, it doesn’t make you original. But don’t worry, we’ve always been at war with EastAsia.

          6. unlike far leftist types like yourself, I don’t confuse American incompetence and blundering with the evils of (in the old days) Communism, or today, Islamic extremism.

            Like rightist extremists everywhere, you haven’t a clue about my views. You lump me in with some “far leftist” strawman whom you’ve created out of whole cloth.

            You’ve expressed some mild skepticism about U.S. military intervention, though you supported the reasons for the intervention (and not necessarily the intervention itself. That makes you a neocon-lite. A wuss who doesn’t have the courage of your convictions. Not to mention that your refusal to address your views about Israeli interventionism in the region marks you as a pro-Israel neocon, since you do support Israeli military adventurism.

            I am glad to hear you rant about Islamic extremism. Now we can call you a radical libertarian, soft neocon, Islamophobe.

            I’m sure I could predict your views on any given issue

            I’m sure you can’t predict my views on borsht or anything else. I’m neither a conventional leftist, nor anti-Israel, nor anti-American. This nonsense only shows your own utter ignorance and formulaic ‘intellect’ (such as it is). In fact, calling me “anti-Israel” is a lie and grounds for banning. If you use such terms again here you will lose your comment privileges.

          7. This debate reminds me of a radio interview with Uri Avnery I heard a few years back where he argued he is mild-left, Haaretz is center and Yediot Ahronot is center-right.

          8. @ David Bernstein: I am a Zionist, you moron. Just not your kind of Zionist. Not the one who supports a garrison state in constant war with its neighbors. Not one who supports Jewish triumphalism, supremacism or settlerism.

  1. @ Ariel

    Whereabouts in the New york Times article you gave a link to does it say that the invitation was done WITH the White House’s knowledge?

    In fact the article doesn’t decide on the issue one way or the other. This is the passage that came closest to it:

    “In a telephone interview late Wednesday, Mr. Dermer said, “I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country’s interests.” He said he never meant to slight the White House by keeping the confidence of the House speaker, who had suggested the invitation. He said he left it to Mr. Boehner to notify Mr. Obama’s team.
    “My understanding was that it was the speaker’s prerogative to do, and that he would be the one to inform the administration,” Mr. Dermer said. ”

    So Dermer says that he left it to Boehner to inform the administration. He doesn’t say that Boehner actually diid so, let alone at what stage.

    Richard like you I think that on the whole it is preferable that N. iS reelected. I want the wolf that is present day Israel to be in wolf’s clothing. By the same token I think that it might be preferable for N. to give the speech. Anything that helps to break down bipartisan support for Israel in Congress is welcome. And unless he is deaf, blind and dumb he knows that his pretence that he is speaking on behalf of World Jewry is laughable. He doesn’t even speak on behalf of all Israelis.

    1. @Arie Brand “speaking on behalf of World Jewry is laughable. He doesn’t even speak on behalf of all Israelis” – Bibi didn’t invent the idea that Israel represent World Jewry (which is indeed very problematic). It can be traced all the way to Ben-Gurion. As for Israelis, you might want to familiar yourself with the concept of a democracy.
      His approval rate is about as high as Obama’s (around 50%. Many different numbers float around the internet) and twice as much as Hollande.

      1. @ Ariel: Just because there is a “time-honored” tradition that Zionism speaks for all Jews doesn’t mean it’s right. Not to mention that that Bibi has even less moral and practical right to make the claim since his views are far more discordant among world Jewry than Ben Gurion’s were (not that BG exactly had his finger on the pulse of world Jewry either, he generally went his own way).

        Considering the majority of Israelis would prefer a different PM than Bibi according to polls doesn’t say a lot about his approval & popularity ratings. It’s just the other offerings are so weak that keeps him in the running.

      2. I think it is fair enough to suggest that Netanyahu speaks on behalf of all Israelis, even if he has nothing but contempt for a significant percentage of them.

        After all, he has a commission from the Israeli President that gives him that bragging-right.

        But w.r.t. his claim to be able to speak on behalf of all Jews….. well, heck, who made him King Of The Jews?

        Because unless he can point to someone or something that has given him that mandate then the claim is laughable, amounting to nothing more that self-appointed self-importance.

        Messianic, indeed.

    2. @ Arie Brand: I agree. I think if he’s forced to cancel the speech he’s exposed and hurt. If he gives the speech I think he’s equally & perhaps more hurt by how it will be received. It’s a win-win for his opponents I think. The problem is that these things accrete very slowly. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts. How long will it take before Bibi is seen for the sham he is? And will it be too late by then? And what is to take his place?

  2. @ Ariel

    “As for Israelis, you might want to familiar yourself with the concept of a democracy.”

    You might want to familiarise yourself with the idea that in a genuine democracy there is a genuine opposition. Newly elected leaders say almost invariably that they want to govern for all their countrymen (and women). The strongest form of this delusion is found in a one party state.

    Interesting that you want to teach us about democracy. Have you got any experience with it then – in Israel?

    Richard, things do indeed go painfully slow – especially for the victims and for those watching on the sideline. Somebody looking back a hundred years from now might deal with it however in one sentence: between 1967 and (let us say) 2020 Israel completely screwed up.

    1. It is important to point out that Israel has adopted a Westminster-style democracy, and that’s quite different to the form of government used in the USA

      In the Westminster system a politician gets to be Prime Minister because he has been given a commission by the Head Of State (e.g. the President of Israel).

      So it really doesn’t matter if Netanyahu is the most popular politician in Israel, or has a small majority of the voting popln on his side, or has the unmistakable reek of A Dead Man Walking.

      Doesn’t matter.

      He holds a commission from the President of Israel (and note that in 2009 Peres did so even tho Likud wasn’t the biggest party in the Knesset), and there is no sign of Rivlin revoking it any time short of election night.

      Indeed, it is entirely possible for Likud to come third in the elections and Netanyahu STILL be able to demonstrate to Rivlin that he alone can string together a coalition that will survive a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the Knesset.

      In which case Rivlin will have little choice but to hand the commission to Netanyahu and see if he survives the first day of Parliament.

      But, regardless, this remains true: while Netanyahu holds that commission then he can legitimately claim to speak on behalf of “Israel”.

      Not on behalf of “All Jews, Everwhere”, no, but certainly on behalf of “All Israelis, even those who didn’t vote for me”.

      1. @Yeah, Right – You can call Peres all kind of name but Bibi lover isn’t one of them. Until 2007, he served as Kadima KM and minister then voted as president. He gave Bibi the mandate to create coalition since Bibi has 65 KMs who ‘recommanded’ him vs only 28 for Kadima.

        I don’t know how familiar you are with Israeli politics but after the president commission a candidate to create a coalition, it gives one 28 days which can extended further by 14 days. During that period, the interim government continue to operate which is very limited is it’s ability to change budgets etc’. So for Peres to put his preferences before the right decision (which he didn’t do) would have cost Israeli citizens in a waste of weeks in partly operating government until ultimately Bibi get his chance.

        1. Ariel: “You can call Peres all kind of name but Bibi lover isn’t one of them.”

          That statement does nothing other than prove that you didn’t understand a word that I said.
          It doesn’t matter if Peres hated Bibi’s guts, or if Bibi was Peres love-child born out of wedlock.

          Doesn’t matter.

          What mattered is that Peres was President, and his duties required him to make a determination about who had a better chance of forming a govt that could survive a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the Knesset.

          Peres decided (probably rightly, though we’ll never know now) that Netanyahu had a better chance than Livni, so if he had any integrity then he had to put aside whatever personal feelings he had about Bibi and give him a commission to form a government.

          That’s how the Westminster system works i.e. the Prime Ministership is **not** an elected position. The Prime Minister is an appointee, the person who appoints the PM is the Head Of State, and he remains the PM only for as long as the Head Of State allows him to retain that commission.

          1. @Yeah, Right – The president himself is being voted by KMs only, so he is most defiantly not the voice of the people. The closest position in Israeli political system is thus PM.

          2. A: “The president himself is being voted by KMs only, so he is most defiantly not the voice of the people. ”

            No, he’s not. The President is the Head of State, which makes him the legal representative of the STATE.

            And I agree – the Prime Minister represents “the will of the people”, precisely because he is in command of the legislature, and remains so up until he either loses a vote of no-confidence in the Knesset or there is an election that makes it obvious that he has no chance of winning such a vote in a newly-constituted Knesset.

  3. @ Yeah, right

    About the notion of a Westminster style democracy:

    I don’t know whether you have followed recent political developments in Australia. The Liberal (read: conservative) party was (is), in part, so unhappy about their helmsman’s (PM Tony Abbott’s) performance that it undertook a “spill motion” which, if successful (which it wasn’t – not yet)_would have enabled it to vote to put somebody else in his place.

    Abbott was of course not happy about this.

    He maintained that, yes, before the elections he had obtained his leadership position through a vote of his parliamentary colleagues but after the election he had been put there by the Australian people – so only the people could remove him, in another election.

    His colleagues maintained that he got this all wrong. In a Westminster style democracy the leader gets his position through a vote by the parliamentary members of his party and they can take it away from him ( yes he has been sworn in, in the Australian case, by the Governor general but he isn’t “commissioned” by the GG).

    This makes the whole notion that in a Westminster style democracy the leader represents his country somewhat tenuous. There are moments that it is even doubtful whether s/he represents his /her own party. But perhaps Israel has its own brand of a Westminster style democracy.

    According to the latest Newspoll Abbott’s approval rating is now 24 %. I think it is fair to say that three out of four Australians would bristle at the notion that Abbott represents them. inside the country or outside.

    Netanyahu’s approval rating is around 50 % and I read that on this particular issue, addressing Congress (to thwart Obama), about half of all Israelis do not agree with him (Reuters reported yesterday: “An opinion poll by Israel’s Army Radio on Monday said 47 percent of people think Netanyahu should cancel the address, while 34 percent say he should go ahead with it”).

    So what is wrong with my statement that he doesn’t even represent all Israelis (let alone World Jewry). Is it invalidated by the fact that Israel has a Westminster style democracy (as you say – in my view it is not a democracy at all but we will let that rest). If my Australian example is sound I would say no.

    1. “( yes he has been sworn in, in the Australian case, by the Governor general but he isn’t “commissioned” by the GG).”

      No, you have that wrong. There is no distinction i.e. “being sworn in” is the same thing as “being commissioned”.

      The Prime Minister is an appointee of the Governor General – he is the first person to be “sworn in” – and it is then that Prime Minister who advises the Head of State regarding who he wants appointed as his ministers, all of whom the GG then “swears in”.

      So the Prime Minister is sworn in first, and then all his other Ministers are sworn in As Soon As The Prime Minister Can Get His Act Together.

      This is very simple, because in 1975 the Governor General revoked to commission of the then-Prime Minister (Gough Whitlam), the GG then immediately appointing the then-opposition leader (Malcolm Fraser) in Whitlam’s stead.

      The Governor General did that only long enough for the “new” Prime Minister to “advise” that elections be called (by convention a GG can only take “advice” from the Prime Minister, which is why he had to ditch Whitlam and replace him with Fraser so that he could get the “advice” he wanted to hear).

      Writs for new elections were then issued, precisely because the GG had been “advised” to issue those writs by his “new” Prime Minister.

      It was the political equivalent of a pea ‘n’ thimble trick, but it does illustrate one important point; in the Westminster System the Chief Minister (i.e. the Prime Minister) is an appointed position, and the person who appoints him is not “the voters” but the Head of State.

  4. @ Yeah, right

    Perhaps it is fair to say that a PM represents his/her country as a legal entity (somebody has to sign for it after all) but not necessarily all its denizens.

    1. No, not really.

      It would be fairer to say that the Israeli PRESIDENT represents his country as a legal entity, even if only as a figurehead, since he/she is usually the person who has to sign an act of Parliament into law (though it would be inconceivable for a head of state to refuse to do so).

      In which case the Israeli PRIME MINISTER more properly represents “the will of the people”, since he is in charge of both the legislature and the executive.

      But always at the whim of the President – who can withdraw that commission whenever he wants.

      Keep in mind that the Westminster system places a huge stock on convention – far more so than does the US presidential system of government – so if the PM loses a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the legislature then convention requires that he hand in his commission to the President (= Governor-General in most countries) and advise that new elections be called.

      But typically there is no LAW that says he must do so, or that an election must be called – it’s just that this is what is always done.

      Equally, convention requires that the head of state NOT revoke the commission unless a no-confidence motion is passed on the floor of the legislature – but, again, there is no LAW that says that, and in 1975 the Australia PM was dismissed under circumstances that still rankle a lot of people.

      But the long and short of it is this: so long as Netanyahu retains a commission from Rivlin then he is Prime Minister, and as such he can legitimately claim to represent “the Israelis”.

      If he lost a no-confidence vote on the floor of the Knesset then *convention* requires him to go to the President and hand back his commission and advise that new elections be called.
      If he lost a preselection vote for the Likud then, again, *convention* requires him to go to the President, hand back his commission, and advise that the President give that commission to his successor.
      And if Netanyahu called new elections then *convention* does not demand that he hand in his commission until the election result is known (though in most Westminster systems *convention* requires the govt to be in “caretaker mode” until the election is over).

      But the important thing to note is this; in a Westminster system the election is one-step-removed from the formation of government, because that requires the Head Of State to appoint (not elect, but appoint) someone to form the government, which then must stand the test of survival on the floor of the legislature.

      1. I still do not understand why you believe that the Westminster System makes a head of government (the Prime Minister) somehow more representative of his /her people.

        I also do not understand why you, in the case of the Westminster System, attach such great importance to the role of the head of state (King/Queen, President (Israel), Governor General). I believe that role to be largely ceremonial and narrowly circumscribed by convention. It seems to me that you, by contrast, exaggerate the head of state’s power in the Westminster System.

        But even if you were right why would it make the people concerned feel more represented by their respective heads of government?

        So to me this alleged power of the head of state is a red herring as far as my original thesis is concerned namely that Bibi doesn’t even represent all Israelis (let alone World Jewry).

        A single word however about your prime example for the Governor General’s power in the Australian case, the dismissal of the then Labor government under Whitlam by the then Governor General, John Kerr. This case is controversial until the day of today. A Governor General had never done a thing like that before – s/he has never done it since. It made John Kerr an outcast and he had to remove himself to alien shores to have a tolerable life.

        It is still a matter of controversy whether his so-called reserve powers gave him the authority to do what he did.

        I will not elaborate on this. You can find all the materials online.The point is that the case is not typical for the power of the head of state, in this case the GG, in a Westminster System.

        OK the Prime Minister is sworn in (you insist “is commissioned” – all right) by the head of state. But s/he has very little discretion in the matter. From Wikipedia: “The appointment of the prime minister is also, theoretically, governed by the Royal Prerogative. Technically the monarch may appoint as prime minister anyone she wants to appoint, but in practice the appointee is always the person who commands a majority in the House of Commons.”

        The Australian GG has no greater power.

        In fact the GG is more at the mercy of the PM than the reverse. As one time PM Malcolm Fraser, the main beneficiary of the dismissal case of 1975, put it:

        “The Queen has tenure, and she couldn’t be sacked. But a Governor-General holds office at pleasure, and if he ceases to please then he can be removed by a Prime Minister.”[

        Yes the removal is technically executed by the Queen – but only on the advice of the Prime Minister. However, once again, the debate about the particular point that you initiated, seems to me largely irrelevant to the main question: can the head of government of a country be said to represent all his countrymen/women even when it comes to controversial questions such as the Bibi-speech. I say no. You say yes because, somehow, the Westminster System mysteriously makes him so. I don’t think even Bibi has thought of this yet.

        1. A: ” It seems to me that you, by contrast, exaggerate the head of state’s power in the Westminster System.”

          No, I’m not “exaggerating” the role of the Head of State in a Westminster system.

          What I am doing is pointing to one of his many roles – the commissioning of the Prime Minister – to point out why the person holding that commission (e.g. Netanyahu) can legitimately claim to be “the voice of the Israeli people” **even** **if** his poll numbers were to be lying down in the toilet.

          I only did that because there were people who were claiming (incorrectly) that Netanyahu couldn’t claim to represent “the Israelis” because Likud couldn’t command a majority of the voting popln of Israel.

          One more time: that argument is false, precisely because the position of Prime Minister is not an ELECTED position, it is an APPOINTED position, and the person who makes that appointment is the President of Israel.

          So long as Rivlin accepts that Bibi is Prime Minister then Bibi is, indeed, the Prime Minister.

          And as long as Bibi is Prime Minister then he can claim to speak on behalf of The Israeli People, precisely because that mantle Comes With The Job.

          I am quite correct to point that out and, consequently, I am quite correct to point out that Bibi’s popularity (or lack thereof) in the latest polls has no effect on his right to claim the mantle of “representative of the Israeli people”.

          1. @ Yeah, right

            Your argument doesn’t hold at all for the Australian case (and I suspect not for the Israeli one either). When Abbott was recently in trouble he didn’t say” I have been appointed by the Governor General and therefore you, my colleagues, can’t remove me” (it is a pity that you couldn’t serve him with your advice which he, though a trained lawyer, apparently didn’t think of). What Abbott actually said was “I was elected by the Australian people and only they can remove me, in the next election.”

            His colleagues reminded him however that he had been doubly elected: first by them, as their leader, and then in the general election. So they could remove him from his position. The Governor General wasn’t referred to in this argument in any shape or form.

            The actual reality (as opposed to your legal fiction) is that the Governor General is appointed (at the discretion of the PM who advises the Queen) and can also be dismissed by the PM. The GG has no discretion, however, in the appointment of a PM (he just follows the choice of the electorate) and normally can’t dismiss him (except in very extraordinary circumstances as the dismissal case of 1975).

            The PM refers for the source of his legitimacy, as Abbott did, not to his “appointment” by the Governor General but to having been elected. He would be ridiculed if he mentioned his “appointment” by the Governor General in this context. That “appointment” is merely a ceremonial byproduct of the real thing.

            In other words a PM, in spite of that seemingly unavoidable trope in inaugural speeches that s/he wants to represent all Australians, is never felt by all Australians to be actually doing so. In that case there would be a close to 100 % approval rating. Such monsters are only found in one party states where the Dear Leader, in actual fact, only represents himself.

            The legal fiction that a Westminster PM represents his/her whole nation is mainly upheld in concluding treaties with foreign powers.

            I suspect that very much the same thing holds for Israel. To be persuaded otherwise I would need a more convincing argument than yours.

          2. A: “When Abbott was recently in trouble he didn’t say” I have been appointed by the Governor General and therefore you, my colleagues, can’t remove me” ”

            I don’t intend to even pretend to understand what goes through Tony Abbott’s narrow-minded mind, but what I do want to point out is that you are coming up with such fantasy scenarios because you insist on seeing this from the wrong perspective.

            Try see if from the Governor General’s PoV instead.

            He has a job, and it’s an important one. It is to decide who can best survive a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the legislature.

            Whoever that person is will be the person that he appoints to be Prime Minister.

            Usually that’s a no-brainer, especially in Australia where there is really just The Labor Party versus The Liberal/National Coalition.

            In the case of the last election that was, indeed, a no-brainer: Tony Abbott had the support of more than enough members of parliament to survive any no-confidence motion.

            Now, if Tony Abbott had lost the Liberal leadership a few days ago then that’s no longer true i.e. whoever succeeds him as leader of the Liberal Party would have become the person who could survive such a no-confidence vote, ergo, Abbott would have no choice but to resign as PM and the Governor General would have no choice but to appoint the that new Liberal leader as the new Prime Minister.

            You don’t see it that way because that’s never how it is portrayed in the press.

            But that is indeed the way it is: the Prime Ministership is an appointed position, it is not an elected position, and the person who appoints him/her is the Governor General.

            That’s how the system works IN LAW, and all the rest – the party-room hijinks that plays out on the front pages – is all political CONVENTION.

  5. @ Yeah,right

    This whole exchange started with the question whether in a Westminster style democracy the elected leader is felt to represent the whole nation and can rightfully claim that he does. I submitted that he isn’t and that he can’t because he is a product of an antagonistic electoral process. Moreover, one of the characteristics of a Westminster style democracy (as different from another type of democracy that I know at close quarters, that of the Netherlands) is that the executive is part of the legislature. The PM and his cabinet are themselves members of parliament and participate in the parliamentary fights as lustily as the best of them. People who have voted for the opposition can now see this on their tv screen. They take sides, also because their own interests are often at stake. They scoff at the idea that the PM, the guy who is fighting on the other side, is representing the whole nation. We are dealing here with social realities not legal fictions.

    Now according to you that all counts for nothing because the PM has in a ceremony that in your eyes has apparently a wonderfully unifying power been sworn in by the Governor General. You say the PM has been appointed, rather than been elected

    You wrote:

    “Try see if (sic) from the Governor General’s PoV instead.

    He has a job, and it’s an important one. It is to decide who can best survive a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the legislature.

    Whoever that person is will be the person that he appoints to be Prime Minister.”

    So here you portray things from that elevated point of view, that of the GG, as a matter of careful selection, to argue in the next paragraph that in Australia the whole thing is more or less pre-cooked because the electoral process has already done the job for him.

    But that is not unique to Australia.

    The same thing can be seen in the prototype Westminster style democracy, that of Britain where the Queen has to carefully choose (in your view of things) a candidate that is actually handed to her on a platter.

    You wrote:

    “You don’t see it that way because that’s never how it is portrayed in the press.”

    There might be a good reason for political journalists not portraying things in this way – their editors might not appreciate political fantasies.

    I will leave the last word to you.

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