Are you ready for some football—or another jobs speech? That is the decision that will face American TV viewers on September 8. At 8:30 on that date, the NFL kicks off its 2011 season with a matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the defending champion Green Bay Packers.
On a competing network in the same time slot, the president will deliver his much-anticipated (?) jobs speech to a joint session of Congress. After a day of bravado and muscle-flexing, the White House backed off its threat to air the speech the same night as a GOP presidential debate planned months ago.Speaker of the House John Boehner scored another minor victor for his team by standing pat and telling the administration that Wednesday was a no-go.
Since the president lacked the authority in the first place to demand a congressional audience on the date of his choosing—protocol dictates that the invitation come from the legislative branch—all the chest-thumping in retrospect looks ridiculous.
Worse still, he came off once again looking like a push-over to his liberal media base. Michael Scherer wrote in TIME:
He faces a perception problem, not just with Congress but with a growing share of the American people, who think he is so eager to find compromise on key issues of national importance that he allows himself to be pushed around. Wednesday’s confusion will not help to solve this problem….
And so the President’s team must now look for another opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to go on offense. As it happened Wednesday, the bungled scheduling undercut their central message.
Here’s a better suggestion. Why doesn’t the administration worry less about going “on offense,” and follow the president’s own best advice: “put country ahead of party.” Instead of trying to rescue his tarnished image with yet another tired and tiresome speech on jobs, why doesn’t he absent himself from the conversation altogether, as he did with health care reform, and let Congress broker its own deal? It may end up having more of a Republican footprint than he would like, but the economy has struggled mightily following his prescription for infrastructure spending combined with payroll tax cuts, so why not just turn over all the cards?
Such an approach would certainly infuriate and further alienate Democrats. It might even lead to his defeat in 2012. But if the economy began to show signs of life in the months to come, he could take credit for having “overseen” its recovery. If it got worse, he could fix the blame squarely on the opposition party and its nominee. Either way, he could rest easy in the knowledge that he had put the good of the nation ahead of his personal ambition, a legacy any leader would be proud of.
- Obama to give jobs speech same night, time as televised GOP debate
- Putting country ahead of vacation
- First glimpse of Obama’s big September jobs plan: Repeat the stimulus
- Poll: Obama’s handling of debt crisis sucks less than GOP’s
Click Subscribe at the top of the page to have my articles sent directly to your e-mail inbox. Follow me on Twitteror join me at Facebook. You can reach me at email@example.com or by posting a comment below.