US congresspeople got quite the workout on the morning of 3 March 2015. ‘Twas on this fateful day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, addressed US Congress, in what one might refer to as an historic occasion—the lector himself saw no problem in proclaiming it to be. Such an occasion did not occur without much hullaballoo in the US press, primarily because the foreign head of state was invited directly by Capitol Hill. The White House was not consulted. If there is one word to describe Congress’ response to the affair, it would be “ecstatic.” In the drug-addled sense. A bit too ecstatic—verging on the delirious. Maniacal, almost. To say it was just well received would be to commit the callous crime of understatement. In Netanyahu’s pep rally, rather speech before the US legislative branch, Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations. 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s exhortation consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations. I repeat: Over one-fourth of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of Congress applauding and doing standing ovations. Our representatives doubtless did not have to worry about going to the gym this lazy Monday morning; they worked up enough of a sweat standing up and sitting back down every minute or so in the legislative equivalent of calisthenics. Through three painful hours of careful counting, I compiled statistics on the incidence of applause. These figures use time frames from the 40:30 New York Times video of the disquisition. Applause Statistics for Netanyahu’s
Pep Rally Speech before Congress TOTAL:
- Congress interrupted to applaud 39 times. 23 of these were standing ovations.
- 10:55 of the 40:30 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 27% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
BEGINNING: 0:16-0:22 applause 0:50-1:10 applause, standing ovation 1:17-1:40 applause, standing ovation 1:48-1:54 applause 2:15-2:22 applause 2:27-2:42 applause, standing ovation 3:24-3:33 applause 3:58-4:16 applause, standing ovation 4:31-4:38 applause 4:48-5:04 applause, standing ovation 6:19-6:26 applause
- In the first 6:26 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 11 times. 5 of these were standing ovations.
- 2:14 of the first 6:26 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 35% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
MIDDLE: 11:26-11:33 applause 11:39-12:00 applause, standing ovation 14:14-14:32 applause, standing ovation 15:05-15:25 applause, standing ovation END: 25:37-25:56 applause, standing ovation 26:07-26:25 applause, standing ovation 26:28-26:42 applause, standing ovation 26:47-27:13 applause, standing ovation 27:27-27:33 applause 27:43-27:49 applause 27:54-28:12 applause, standing ovation 28:52-28:59 applause 29:13-29:19 applause 29:34-29:41 applause 30:11-30:31 applause, standing ovation 30:44-31:03 applause, standing ovation 31:16-31:22 applause 31:33-31:38 applause 32:54-33:13 applause, standing ovation 33:33-34:19 applause, standing ovation 34:26-34:46 applause, standing ovation 35:00-35:06 applause 35:27-35:54 applause, standing ovation 36:14-36:32 applause, standing ovation 36:44-36:59 applause, standing ovation 37:03-37:28 applause, standing ovation 37:46-37:51 applause 38:53-40:30 applause, standing ovation
* In the last 14:53 of the Netanyahu speech, Congress interrupted to applaud 24 times. 15 of these were standing ovations. * 7:35 of the last 14:53 of Netanyahu’s speech consisted of applause. In other words, 51% was Congress applauding and doing standing ovations.
A Saccharine Sermon for Sycophants Netanyahu broke with many a shibboleth in his screed—primarily that which dictates that one provide extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims—instead preferring to rail against the “death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad” of the “dark and brutal” Iranian regime and rehash wholly unsubstantiated myths about the supposed impending second Shoah. (The fact that a slow-moving holocaust of Palestinians—what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls an “incremental genocide“—
* “three tentacles of terror,” * “you can Google it,” * “deadly game of thrones,” * “nuclear tinderbox,” * “Persian bazaar,” * “gobbling up,” * “He tweets!,” and * “hide and cheat”
among others. Such lexical ingenuity inspired some to speak of the new Netanyahu in Congress Drinking Game (trademark pending). The Israeli commander-in-chief even went so far in the hallowed quest of prosaisms as to quote Robert Frost’s 1916 opus “The Road Not Taken” (apparently the only poem the literary legend every penned, considering the frequency with which it is cited). And there was clearly no dearth of alliteration in the three-quarter-hour invective; it is as if he and his speechwriters purchased a Speechwriting 101 manual and employed every worn-out tool in the cheap toolbox they could find. In the ultimate bromide, Bibi concluded his philippic by drawing upon the memory on Moses, to stir the hearts of the 92% Christian Congress before him. “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America,” rang the dénouement of his odious ode. Were someone to have asked me what I was up to on my Monday night, I would had no choice but to have answered, “Oh, nothing much, you know, just counting the number of times our obsequious Congress applauded during Netanyahu’s speech.” For the entire duration of the political pep rally, I was frankly expecting a sports team to be mere seconds from spiritedly bursting through the august doors, accompanied by cheerleaders somersaulting, fanfare blasting, and torrents of confetti dropping from the ceiling. Were I not a stodgy teetotaler, I would have considered a potable palliative to facilitate the enumerative and observational process. Alas, pain adds character, and sometimes sobriety is the best—if not the only—way to appreciate the violent inebriation in which the contemporary political order ingratiates itself. Besides, no amount of libational sedative could have shielded mine own eyes from the burning effulgence, nor saved me from drowning in the sea, of pasty bourgeois WASPs. This is what an 80% white male Congress, with a 94% white Senate, looks like. (I searched quite laboriously and could not find a single person of color in the lengthy video). If one were forced to classify the event, one would be compelled to call it—one avoids the phrase in professional settings, yet one must choose it out of linguistic necessity and articulative accuracy—a giant circle jerk. In the epitome of this exercise in gratuitous self-pleasure, the legislature broke out in sizzling, hand-clapping approbation in response to the very first line of the opprobrious homily, in which Netanyahu declared he was “humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the US Congress.” One cannot help but wonder why our congresspeople even bothered sitting down—or, better yet, why they even bothered letting Netanyahu say anything at all. They might as well have just applauded for 11 minutes and left. Such a decision would have garnered the same effect as this public relations stunt, and would have proved to be just as substantive (that is to say, completely vacuous) of a message. Even the most assiduous of bootlickers have the decency to give those whom they admire a chance to speak. Yet Congress “gobbled up,” to use the prime minister’s words, a quarter of Bibi’s time, taking every opportunity and then some to not just scratch his back, but to lewdly pat its own. Progressive political comedian John Stewart stood in accord. Republicans gave Netanyahu “the longest blowjob” a politician ever received in Congress, he quipped. Such a characterization may lack in poetry, but it is not hyperbolic. Netanyahu’s congressional pep rally eroticized the morbid, turning war into peace and delusion into prospective policy. Ben Norton is a freelance writer and journalist. His website can be found at http://BenNorton.com/.