There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking about the president’s address to a joint session of Congress and its move to Thursday. Who came off better: President Obama or Speaker John Boehner?
Some from our side argued that the president should be given the date he wanted. They say it is unprecedented to deny him a request. No, he gets a foul for that fumble. President he may be, but he is not the king or single instrument of government. He must coordinate with the other branches. Speaker Boehner was polite in asking him to change the date. Obama should have followed protocol and discussed it with him before Jay Carney announced it.
To argue that it was an unwitting mischeduling by team Obama is to suggest that they are either self absorbed or dangerously unaware of their own government. The Republican debate had been scheduled for months. Obama was too clever by half to choose the same day and time. It backfired and made him look petty. Obviously he wanted to take the attention away from the candidates, in particular, newcomer Rick Perry.
Others on the right, in particular Charles Krauthammer, argue that the Republicans should have allowed Obama to speak at the time he requested and push back their own debate time. He said that it would provide a great opportunity to rebut every point Obama makes. That argument seems weak. The debate will be moderated by MSNBC people, so they will be in charge of what is discussed. They can pick, choose and frame questions any way they want.
Besides, who but the most intense political junkie would want to wade through Obama’s speech, the analysis by the punditocracy, then on to the debate and further analysis as the clock ticks towards midnight? Most of us would lose focus after several hours of this. It’s not even an election year; we can pace ourselves. We’ve got plenty of this ahead.
Now it has been moved to the same night as the big playoff between Superbowl winners the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. I think it’s pretty clear which one most Americans will choose. President Obama put himself in this box; had he just been upfront about it, this wouldn’t have happened. He can hardly argue that it’s too important to move since he just spent ten days at Martha’s Vineyard relaxing with the wife. He didn’t feel the need to rush to the podium then.
Boehner did the right thing. Obama likes to bully others quietly while claiming the victim card, too. It’s time this ended. As with most bullies, once you call their bluff they fold. It’s time Boehner started doing that. In this round, he scored.