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The 'peevish' fight over Obama's jobs speech
The president relents after Republicans lambaste him for trying to address Congress on the same night as a much-hyped GOP presidential debate
 
President Obama backed down to House Speaker John Boehner after a squabble over the date of Obama's much-anticipated jobs speech.
President Obama backed down to House Speaker John Boehner after a squabble over the date of Obama's much-anticipated jobs speech.
CC BY: The White House, REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"The last day of this angst-ridden August" in Washington was depressingly similar to the acrimonious ones before it, says Ron Elving at NPR. First, President Obama announced he would deliver his big jobs speech before a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7 — the same night Republican presidential candidates are set to debate. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) then rejected Obama's request — the first time in history a speaker has publicly denied the president permission to deliver such an address. The president acceded, and will speak on Thursday, Sept. 8 instead. Who came out on top in this "peevish" scheduling fight?

This round goes to Boehner: Stepping on the GOP debate was an aggressive political move by Obama, says Michael Scherer at TIME, until "it blew up in his face." Now Obama's speech will have to compete with next Thursday's opening game of the NFL season, one of the highest-rated TV events of the year. But worse is the "perception problem": It sure looks like Obama started this fall's get-tough campaign by backing down to Boehner.
"Even as he prepares for fall offensive, Obama retreats..."

Obama was "smart to reschedule": The reaction to Obama's concession was swift and predictable, say Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake in The Washington Post, with "Republicans crowing that the president had caved." But switching nights was the smart move. The focus will now be on Obama's speech, not the scheduling fight. By speaking the day after the debate, Obama will "get the last word," not his GOP challengers. And in the end, Obama still gets the "powerful visual and rhetorical" platform of speaking before Congress.
"Why President Obama was smart to reschedule his jobs speech"

Regardless, the public loses this fight: Rescheduling "was the adult decision," if not the best one politically — "in the parlance of Washington, Boehner 'won,'" says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. "But the rest of us lost." If the last year of American politics was tragedy, Obama and Boehner choosing to "get a little cute" with the scheduling of a speech on the nation's most pressing problem means we've "descended into farce." Nothing could signal more clearly that politics will trump any action on the economy.
"Washington as farce"

 

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