Acting Like Children

Remember this story when next November rolls around and somebody like Will.I.Am is trying to tell you how meaningful your vote is, please.

If you haven’t been following, President Obama wanted to make a wanton grab at a news cycle win a speech about his approach to the economy to Congress, and requested 8 p.m. on September 7, the exact date and time of a scheduled debate between potential Republican challengers for 2012. The GOP-controlled House, understandably and justifiably, said “no” and re-raised with an offer of the evening of September 8, where the President will only have to compete against the primetime return of America’s favorite sport.

These are our leaders.

This is yet another disturbing instance of partisan gamesmanship from the Administration that promised to be the post-partisans who would deliver us from “politics as usual.” And what’s so glaring is not that it’s happening (unless you were one of the rubes who bought into the “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” shenanigans), it’s that they are so bad at it. Remember when they pulled the adult equivalent of telling Fox News they couldn’t come to their birthday party? By the end of that little dustup, they’d spurred the other networks to rise to FNC’s defense.

Now this ham-fisted effort, which exposes the White House as either childish or in over their heads. There are three possible scenarios:

1.       As the White House claims, this was just an unhappy coincidence. This option can only be deemed totally absurd.

2.       The White House believed the Republicans had no objection, and would possibly move the debate. This is trickling out as part of the after-the-fact explanation, but it would be hopelessly naïve for anybody on the staff to think that would happen.

3.       The White House knew the Republicans wouldn’t move the debate, hoped the joint session would be OK’d and wanted the contrast of the current President looking Presidential airing opposite a bunch of guys who want to be President. This is really the only realistic explanation, and it feels like a teenager deliberately hosting a party at the same time she saw her rival’s event on Facebook.

But don’t take it from me, take it from the liberal blogosphere:

Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, claims it is pure coincidence that the Obama administration happened to schedule this speech at the exact same moment as Rick Perry’s first primary debate performance. Carney suggested the Republicans re-schedule their debate for the night after Obama’s address. This suggests either the Obama administration is either extremely incompetent or just remarkably petty.

I sincerely hope it is not incompetence. If I thought the people running the White House were actually too stupid to check the TV guide website to find out what also might be happening at 8pm on September 7th before planning an important speech, I would honestly fear for this country.

So it is best to assume Carney is simply lying. This scheduling decision seems more like an incredibly petty move by the White House, designed to step on the Republican debate, and an attempt to prevent Rick Perry from being the big story the next day.

What makes this childish, passive aggressive act really ironic is that Obama will probably use the speech to call for more civility in Washington and ask for both sides to work together. But needlessly stepping on the other party’s important events isn’t how you actually go about promoting civility and encouraging cooperation.

The thing is, no matter what the President says in his “jobs speech,” there’s very little he could actually do on his own in this area (as opposed to, say, war-making, where Congress has completely abdicated its duty and will let the Executive branch do whatever it wants so they’re not accountable for it – a speech on that topic would have serious implications and would surely provide good reason to notify the nation without hesitation or compromise). Further, now is probably not the time to be making a big, dramatic move that would give you ownership of the economy. So, as FDL astutely points out above, this speech will likely be a bunch of vague platitudes about how we can restore our greatness if we all just pull together, set aside our differences and act like adults  – you know, the same stump tripe that could’ve just as easily been delivered in 1811 or 1911. And that’s probably all we’ll be hearing for the next 14 months.

Looks like the NFL isn’t the only season kicking off next Thursday.

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