Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Are You Ready For Some... Really Stupid Political Posturing?

You know, this administration is good at one thing -- creating the circumstances for really stupid petty fights with the opposition.  But this is getting ridiculous...
President Barack Obama sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requesting a Joint Session of Congress on September 7th at 8pm to present his economic growth plan to the nation.

Obama writes that it is his intention "to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order."

Obama's announcement conflicts with a long-scheduled debate between the Republican presidential candidates at the Reagan Library sponsored by NBC and POLITICO.

Asked whether the White House chose the date to coincide with the GOP presidential debate, White House Press Secretary said "No, of course not."
If Jay Carney delivered that line with a straight face, he's a better poker player than me.  Let me count the ways this is moronic. 

To start with, the two sides are bickering over whether Obama cleared the date with Speaker Boehner's office prior to announcing it, as this tweet and a later tweet from CBS' Mark Knoller indicate.  Neither side looks good on this, as it looks like the White House picked the same night as the GOP debate for reasons that look petty and political (or just incompetent, if they didn't know the conflict existed)*, and Boehner didn't say no before the President's people announced the date.

* While I don't doubt this White House capacity for incompetence, they're generally on top of one thing -- trying to get the Preisdent re-elected and keeping track of the campaign events.  In fact, presidential campaign politics may be the one thing that they understand best.

This gets even more ridiculous when you consider the backdrop.  The press has been asking for the date and type of speech the President planned to give for the better part of a week, so one presumes everyone knew that it was important.  even more so, the White House has been hyping this as an important domestic policy address, and it should be, since it's addressing the pressing issues of unemployment and the sputtering economy.  In that context, one would expect something more than petty political headgames.  I would say more, but Allapundit beats me to the punch...
You know what the worst part of this little power play is? It’s not that O is so petty that he’d try to bigfoot his competition. That can be excused, sort of, on “politics ain’t beanbag” grounds. It’s not that his jobs plan won’t do much to help or that everyone — everyone — knows that the speech will reek, filled as it’ll surely be with the usual tedious bromides from the “adult in the room” about how mean Congress is, etc. By now, expectations for Obama are so low that it’s almost impossible for him to disappoint. It’s not that doing this is actually quite stupid politically, since it risks turning the GOP debate from a Perry/Romney/Bachmann free-for-all into a free-fire zone for attacks on Obama’s economic plan. Said one Democratic consultant, “It’s a bad idea [and] seems a little small. And it suggests perhaps his jobs plan wont be that appealing because now the coverage will be about the strategy and not the substance.” It’s not even that he’s suddenly demanding the gravitas of a joint session, signaling a crisis of utmost national urgency, after having jerked around on this singularly important issue for two and a half years. Better late than never, I guess.

The worst part is that, with the economy on the brink of a double-dip and consumer confidence falling off a cliff, this guy’s mind is still so preoccupied with the campaign that he can’t muster a moment of presidential leadership without counterprogramming it against a Republican primary event. He could have given this speech at any point. Six months ago, the day after the debt-ceiling deal was struck, last week, yesterday, today, tomorrow, the day before the Republican debate, the day after. Any of those would have been fine — the earlier the better, of course, given the magnitude of the problem — but that doesn’t occur to him because his own reelection is ever foremost in his imagination.
The only good news -- the President and Boehner agreed to move the speech to Thursday night, which means we can immediately dull the pain caused by the speech by watching the first game of the NFL season.*

* New thought: perhaps President Obama really wanted to be forced to take Thursday night by the GOP, so it wouldn't look like this rabid Bears fan was trying to shoehorn in on the Packers' opening night game, when he secretly wanted to do so.  In that case, I applaud you, Mr. President -- if presented with a similar opportunity to undercut the Dallas Cowboys, I would do the same damn thing.

If I have to bet, the backdrop of political pettiness and chaos is not going to help create confidence in whatever proposals the President proposes.  It's not like much confidence exists -- we don't have any evidence that the President knows squat about fixing the economic and unemployment problems -- but it's pretty dumb to undermine whatever might exist.  Of course, maybe they're just lowering expectations.  To which, I'd note that they can't get much lower.

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