The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama’s Big Speech Scheduling Stunt Achieves What, Exactly?


Today the White House announced that President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern; Jay Carney said the timing, at the precise time of a scheduled Republican presidential debate in California, is coincidental.

For the next day or so, we’ll hear some cheery salutes about what a savvy move this is on the part of the president. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post is already declaring it, “bad-[tush].

(Notice that it has gone from “a very specific plan” (Obama’s words) to a speech. While Obama is pledging to “lay out a series of bipartisan proposals,” we’ll see if it ever gets written down, as Obama’s big plan to reduce the deficit never was.)

Except that once Obama and his advisers finish patting themselves on the back for scheduling the debate opposite the Republicans and making them move, he will still have to give a speech with two extremely high bars to clear. Can it or any of the ideas in it A) actually improve the economy at all or reduce unemployment or B) change the way Americans feel about how he’s handing that issue?

Of course, if Obama had a terrific idea on how to achieve either goal, why did he wait until now to use it?

Even Capehart admits,

My only concern is that Obama is not going to present anything we haven’t already heard or won’t propose ideas that stretch the imagination. He must if he’s to change the course and the dynamic of the debate. We’ve heard these do-or-die speeches from Obama to Congress before. This one must not be deemed a waste of time.

If you’re worried about it being a waste of time, just how bad-[tush] a move can this be?

UPDATE: Speaker Boehner responds, “Hey, how about Thursday night?

Tags: Barack Obama


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