Insulting and condescending.
That is how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of Congress Wednesday morning that outlined the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and the need for a deal that includes tougher conditions than the one the Obama administration is currently negotiating.
"I was near tears throughout the prime minister's speech," Pelosi said when Netanyahu's remarks concluded. "Saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the [permanent member nations of the U.N. Security Council], and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation."
Dozens of Democrats skipped Netanyahu's remarks out of solidarity with the Obama administration, which in a breach of protocol, was not consulted by House Speaker John Boehner when he extended the invitation earlier this year.
But the chamber was packed, and Democrats and Republicans alike had mostly praise for the speech, even if Democrats disagreed with the timing and protocol.
"It was very well received," Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., told the Washington Examiner as he exited the chamber. "He stated very clearly and emphatically that he wants to preserve a great relationship with the United States, but his top priority is to protect his country, and he believes that they are moving toward a bad deal that will not protect Israel or the world."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, praised the speech as reminiscent of one delivered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
"Like a lion in winter, Prime Minister Netanyahu is speaking with clarity and a gravity about the threat a nuclear Iran poses to the existence of the nation of Israel and to the safety and security of America."
Netanyahu faces voters in Israel in a close re-election bid later this month, clouding his appearance here.
During the speech, he called on Congress to reject the deal that appears to be taking shape between Iran and the United States because he said it does not go far enough to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon or sponsoring terrorism in the region.
Among the Democrats who planned to skip the speech was Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.
But Rangel ended up attending anyway, telling theExaminer, "I'm glad my absence is not going to add to the controversy."
Rangel said Netanyahu made an important speech "for Israel," but that House protocol had been shattered, in part by Netanyahu for condemning a deal that does not yet exist.
"I'm not saying he shouldn't have said it," Rangel said. I'm just saying, not on my House floor. How you can condemn an agreement that is secret, I don't know."
Netanyahu's speech drew stronger praise from other Democrats, including Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., a Jewish member of the leadership.
"The bipartisan relationship with Israel took some knocks as a result of this process, but now it is important to get beyond the process and to what counts, which is the substance of the deal," Israel said.
"I never put responsibility for those knocks on President Benjamin Netanyahu. I put them squarely on John Boehner. This was no Bibi, this was Boehner."
Israel said he agrees with Netanyahu on condemning the deal as too weak on demands that will lessen Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear weapon or to continue sponsoring terrorism.
"He left a little room for an improved deal, but I'm still exceedingly skeptical that we can get to that changed behavior by Iran," Israel said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said Netanyahu warned Congress that there is evidence that Iran is concealing from U.N.-sanctioned inspectors their efforts to produce a nuclear weapon, which he said is another reason to scuttle the current deal needs improving.
"The prime minister just raised that issue and pushed it front and center in a negotiation in which the key issue is not being addressed," Royce said.