America needs to have a serious debate about the grave threats posed by Iran and Islamic extremism, but the White House continues to play a dangerous game of false choices. 

Appearing yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, Speaker Boehner talked about the Obama administration’s attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent address to Congress and growing bipartisan concerns with the administration’s approach in the Middle East:

“I have one goal. That goal is to make sure that the American people heard and the Congress heard about the serious threat that Iran poses not only to the Middle East but for the rest of the world including the United States… The president doesn't want to talk about it. Doesn't want to talk about the threat of radical Islam and the fact that he has no strategy to deal with it.”

That prompted the following response from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest:

"I will simply say that if John Boehner thinks that U.S. troops should be on the ground in Yemen fighting the Houthis, or that we should re-occupy Iraq, or that the United States should bomb Iran to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon, then he should have the courage of his convictions to actually say so.”

The White House has attempted to construct this false choice again and again. It would have Americans believe that anyone who questions the president wants war with Iran and hundreds of thousands of American troops on the ground in places like Iraq and Yemen.

This is not only ridiculous, it’s dangerous at a time when everyone but the White House understands the president’s policies are failing. Over the course of the last week alone, the administration’s foreign policy has been described as “a total mess” by VOX.com, “incoherent” and “convoluted” by NBC’s Richard Engel, and “willful ignorance” by the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

And let’s add another word to the discussion: “delusional.” Webster’s defines it as “a persistent false… belief… that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.” That’s about the only way to describe a White House that insists:

  • Yemen is a model for counterterrorism, even after its president was forced to flee by boat as Iranian-backed Houthi’s advanced on the capital.
  • It will stick to arbitrary political deadlines in Afghanistan, though everyone knows the administration is pushing for a drawdown faster than conditions on the ground warrant. 
  • It can strike a good deal with Iran, even though the emerging agreement does nothing to address Iran’s missile program, its appalling human rights record, and its sponsorship of terror across the Middle East and the world. 

It’s not too late to change course and have a serious conversation about a comprehensive strategy to protect the American people, our allies, and our interests abroad. But the White House is going to have to stop playing games and admit its failed approach isn’t working.