Just as Obama miscalculated in 2009 when Democrats had total control of Congress, holding out hope that G.O.P. lawmakers would come around on health care after all but three senators had refused to vote for the stimulus bill; just as he misread John Boehner this summer, clinging like a scorned lover to a dream that the speaker would drop his demanding new inamorata, the Tea Party, to strike a “grand” budget bargain, so the president once more set a trap for himself and gave Boehner the opportunity to dis him on the timing of his jobs speech this week.
Obama’s re-election chances depend on painting the Republicans as
disrespectful. So why would the White House act disrespectful by
scheduling a speech to a joint session of Congress at the exact time
when the Republicans already had a debate planned?
And why is the White House so cocky about Obama as a TV draw against
quick-draw Rick Perry? As James Carville acerbically noted, given a
choice between watching an Obama speech and a G.O.P. debate, “I’d watch
the debate, and I’m not even a Republican.”
If the languid Obama had not done his usual irritating fourth-quarter
play, if he had presented a jobs plan a year ago and fought for it, he
wouldn’t have needed to elevate the setting. How will he up the ante
next time? A speech from the space station?
Republicans who are worried about being political props have a point.
The president is using the power of the incumbency and a sacred occasion
for a political speech.
Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can
come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic
spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry
around and do what he proclaimed.
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium
are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term.
The White House team is flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching. It’s repugnant. (Full article)