It’s not every day that an opinion piece in The New York Times simultaneously insults the Republican speaker of the House and nearly causes the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to "vomit."
But that’s exactly what happened when Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an article calling for the U.S. government, which is considering launching a military strike on Syria for alleged war crimes, to use restraint in the Middle East. In his piece, Putin also took issue with part of President Barack Obama's national address on Syria on Tuesday night, which made the case for military action and praised “American exceptionalism.”
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote.
“I was at dinner,” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said on CNN after he read the piece. “And I almost wanted to vomit.”
Other lawmakers were equally blunt.
“I was insulted,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Thursday morning. “I’ve probably already said more than I should have said, but you’ve got the truth.”
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called Putin's piece an “insult to the intelligence of every American.”
The op-ed was published amid a passionate debate in Washington over whether the United States should launch a strike against Syria, where President Bashar Assad’s government has been embroiled in civil war for more than two years and stands accused of using chemical weapons.
Earlier this month, Obama called on lawmakers to pass a resolution authorizing a “limited” military strike. This week, however, he requested that a vote on the resolution — which appeared destined to fail anyway — be delayed while the U.S. seeks a diplomatic solution in cooperation with Russia.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill seemed willing to give the White House time, but they remain hesitant to believe that Russia and Syria will work with the United States in good faith.
Boehner, who said on Wednesday that he was “skeptical” about Russia’s motivations, suggested on Thursday that Putin’s op-ed might confirm his suspicions.
“It’s probably why I have suggested I have doubts about the motives of the Russians and Assad,” he said.