HOWARD MEGDAL: Boehner refusing to let the president speak on 9/7 before joint session of Congress was ludicrous. Obama caving and moving speech to 9/8 is demoralizing.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN-MCCANN: I can see it that way. But I can also see that as being Obama saying, “Fine, asshole. I don’t need to make a big deal out of it.” It kind of makes Boehner look more like a schmuck for asking and it might make the president look like he’s stooping to that level if he was all, ‘well whatever I’m speaking then.’
Seriously though, let’s just pack it up. This country’s done.
CHRIS PUMMER: Really looking forward to more whining on the left about how “This should have been where Obama drew a line in the sand!” and “Here is Obama caving again!” and “It’s so horrible, why don’t we just kill ourselves!?!?!”.
You know, like it makes any material difference. Or that anyone will remember this, much less give a shit a month from now.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Chris, I have been solidly on your side when it comes to these issues. The reason is that there’s been a policy reason for Obama to make a concession. The debt ceiling, for instance. You know, default. So you pay a political price.
Here? Seems like they just went out and got publicly bitchslapped for NO REASON. Obama has a constitutional right to convene Congress. Boehner said no. His response? Okay! He looks weak. And fewer people will see his speech. The GOP debate now gets to frame the debate on jobs. He lost in 2010 by failing to set the terms of debate. 2012 has to be different. And this is a lousy start. This kind of thing demoralizes your base. The people paying attention will remember.
CHRIS PUMMER: If this is the kind of thing that will take the wind out of Obama’s reelection sails, that wind wasn’t going to carry him across the ocean to begin with.
I bet Rick Perry won’t put up with this kind of shit when he’s president.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Profoundly disagree. If Obama is willing to allow himself to look weak from now until the election, you can be sure it will hurt him. It isn’t about one decision.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN-MCCANN: All I know is, if normal people acted this way in their jobs, they’d be fired.
What a bunch of fucking babies.
CHRIS PUMMER: If you’re already resigned to Obama being a Conciliator-In-Chief, this shouldn’t matter because moving it off a day has no tangible consequence.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I bet everyone interested in watching him talk on Wednesday will still tune in on Thursday.
The content and policy prescriptions included in the talk, along with the push to make it a reality, are far more important than the quibbledick stuff both sides were pretty eager to spin when they felt like their side was driving the steamroller.
To that I’d think Obama would benefit from following the clown show that is the GOP presidential debate. The level of stupidity on that stage is likely something his reelect team will want to amplify, not drown out.
If all of that is just too demoralizing, maybe Ralph Nader will run for president again. He’d be a real option to the left of the far-to-conservative-so-he-must-be-a-defeatist Obama. Why compromise?
HOWARD MEGDAL: You are missing my point, I think. I’m not demoralized tonight because Obama compromised over something small. I’m demoralized because he went out made himself look weak (and make no mistake, the media will play this up) for no particular reason. And while governing calls for a mixture of policy and politics- I’ve been happy with the policy, and even Obama admist he didn’t spend enough time on the politics- getting re-elected has a hell of a lot more to do with the politics than the policy. So I don’t agree with you that what is in the speech has a ton to do with his re-election prospects. The perception of his speech does, though.
Put another way- if you are going to compromise in policy, you better make damn sure your supporters think you have their back by standing up to the opposition sometime.
I’m not telling you I think someone should primary Obama, or I’d support Nader. But this episode will affect perceptions of the President, and if he isn’t perceived as willing to fight for his supporters, they aren’t going to turn out the way they did in 2008.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN-MCCANN: You don’t think that in a way it makes Boehner look really petty though? Like the kid who gives the teacher the finger behind her back and then acts like he’s so cool?
I mean, apparently Newt Gingrich has his back on this one…which I don’t think does him any favors either.
CHRIS PUMMER: This is only a big deal if you planned your week around it. Which I guess you would if you’re a political reporter. Maybe that’s why everyone reporting on it is acting like it’s a big deal.
But it just isn’t. By next week it is a footnote. By next year? No impressionable mind will remember. I really doubt any impressionable mind is aware of it now. Much less aware of it than if we had to listen to a whole week of bitching and complaining, which seems much more petty and stupid.
That really cuts to the matter of it. Hardly anyone is going to give a rat’s ass, and whatever snide commentary we hear about it afterwards is sure to be buried beneath what will surely be another bitter partisan feud over what we’re actually going to do. That’s when looking petty and stupid on the front end will really hurt.
Is making it look like he hammered Republicans for no measure of a policy victory, but just because he could, really how Obama will have to drive out the Democratic base? Like I said, if that’s the case, he’s doomed right now.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I’m not sure. I do think the perception of Boehner remains unchanged by this event. Maybe it helps crystalize that narrative. But I think that would have been the case regardless. Obama’s major advantage is his opposition.
My point is the whole event, start to finish, comes across like a botched political play by Obama.
If the country is choosing between strong and weak in a leader, we know what they’ll pick. Boehner can be petty, make Obama look weak, and set him up for defeat to someone who certainly is sure of himself. Of course, your friend Romney makes Obama look positively Shermanesque.
And this isn’t about one event. He looked weak in the debt ceiling debate, but he had no leverage. He looked weak again here, and for no goddamn reason. That is my concern- an inability to outfox an opposition able to make him look weak. If it is one day, you are right, it will be forgotten. But he needs to figure out a way to stop looking like this. Forget the left. That’s not how you win independents, either.
CHRIS PUMMER: A tree fell in the forest while nobody was there.
Independents weren’t paying attention today. Partisan lefties were, and seem to be the most shrill about it right now. I’d guess they’ll suck it up and get over it.
This really isn’t anything at all like the debt ceiling debate, which went on for weeks and ended in a way that made nobody happy. I really doubt it even reverberates very long in the media echo chamber.
I guess if you are unemployed, you did have time to log on to Politico at 1p.m., read about the scheduling snafu there and at the WaPo Fix blog, before checking in again at 9 p.m. and reaching a very firm conclusion you hadn’t already made about the general direction of things.
Really doubt that a lot of swing voters experienced that kind of day today.
HOWARD MEGDAL: If you want me to believe that actual positions matter more than perception in electing presidents… I wish I had it in front of me, but Nixon actually persuaded a majority of voters that he was the anti-war candidate against McGovern. Among many, many other examples.
CHRIS PUMMER: Never said optics didn’t matter, especially on big issues.
When Obama gives his talk is not a big issue.
HOWARD MEGDAL: And we don’t disagree about that. My worry is that his failure on the optics here, on the heels of the debt ceiling debacle, after losing the narrative on the stimulus and health care, are indicative of an inability to get the optics right consistently. And from the moment the GOP took the House, actual solutions weren’t possible. He’s in an environment where optics are the only measuring stick between now and next November.
CHRIS PUMMER: Perhaps then we can wait for something that real people actually witness before being thrown into a fit of despair about “optics.”
And by real people, I mean the ones more close to the typical voter who perceive this scheduling slip-up as being little more than background noise if they take notice at all because they don’t follow Chuck Todd on Twitter.
I’m sure if it really comes down to it, and someone has to remind Obama next fall how he messed up the schedule for his jobs talk, he’ll probably be happy to mention he did just fine scheduling those guys who shot Osama bin Laden in the face.
Stuff like that is memorable. Maybe stuff like we’ll here in this jobs talk, or how it’s framed after debating it for weeks and weeks. Like the debt ceiling was.
Moving some speech hardly anyone will plan to watch back a day? Seems like only Obama’s left flank is quivering over that.
JESSICA BADER: I’m mildly amused that POTUS gets to go up as counter programming against his favorite football team’s hated rival, and he can’t be blamed for picking that date. (Also, real talk: trying to do a joint address to Congress at the same time as the GOP debate was kind of a dick move.)
DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: My first thought upon hearing the Wednesday-Thursday kerfluffle on NPR was that Fox News and its ilk will make hay out of it. “Obama tried to upstage the GOP debate! Something something probably a reference to socialism!” But then, there’s no response Team Obama could have given at that point that would prevent any of the talking heads on the right from making hay out of the fact that Obama tried to go talk to Congress the same night as the GOP debate.
(Conveniently ignoring, of course, that Obama has as President a Constitutional right to make the request he did, whereas the GOP debate is going to be a lot of hot air coming from people who are so out of touch with the electorate that they could literally be arguing in front of any populace on the planet with equal applicability. But I’m not biased or anything.)
So, this? Probably going to be a gaffe from the moment the White House picked Wednesday. That said, I think it really would be a gaffe that nobody would remember in 48 hours – *if* the White House had not responded on the same pattern it has responded to far too many partisan fights that actually *mattered*. Now it’s symbolic of the idiocy over the debt ceiling, health insurance reform, and who the hell knows what else. People may not remember this is what happened, but it’s going to go into the general file of “damn, this guy won’t stand up for *anything*, will he?” in a lot of brains, and that is not going to help 2012 one bit.
CHRIS PUMMER: Still a left flank problem. Unless you think people who take the talking heads on Fox seriously haven’t already made up their minds.
To all of those Democrats who feel like George W. Bush kicked sand in their faces for eight years, I’m really sorry you’re not getting a Big Brother Obama who will kick sand back for you. Instead you’ve got a Dad Obama who wants to talk things out with the bully before letting everyone have a turn on the swing.
KATE FELDMAN: Isn’t that the problem? People thought they were voting for super-liberal big brother Obama even though that’s not how he advertised himself. So when he had turned out to be conciliatory and perhaps too polite Dad Obama, people have been disappointed by the expectations they constructed.
CHRIS PUMMER: It really is.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Not to me. I voted for the guy who understood the optics of moving forward with the McCain debate during the economic crisis, both looking decisive and setting the agenda. I hope and expect Obama will be playing offense during the campaign, not as some fulfillment of my liberal hopes and dreams, but because it is a basic requirement to do well in politics.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN-MCCANN: I think I kind of didn’t expect things to devolve into partisan pot-shots as much as they have, so I didn’t expect to have to want Obama to do better in these sorts of shoving matches. Shame on me!
HOWARD MEGDAL: FWIW, all of those are sound reasons for doing it on 9/8 to begin with- not for doing it on 9/7, then backing down. They were all true before they announced it.
Again, just one skirmish. But it worries me in terms of what it says about their ability to control the narrative over the next 14 months.
CHRIS PUMMER: We are hyperventilating because the White House rescheduled something to a better time.
I’m sorry. Because Obama backed down and looked like a huge pussy and this is a microcosm for why everything is totally fucked and Rick Perry will be president and Michele Bachmann the vice president and Heman Cain the secretary of the treasury and we’re all going to die in the unpaved street because Obama is really a Republican.
That helps put this it all back in a realty-based world. You know, without histrionics.
JESSICA BADER: Here’s a different take on the schedule kerfuffle (and other Obama/GOP showdowns).
HOWARD MEGDAL: This gets to the heart of what I mean about Obama and tone.
AKIE BERMISS: I get the tone argument although, I think it’s important to politically savvy about pacing. Of course the liberal base wants Obama to come out swinging and knock the GOP on their asses. But let’s remember two things:
A) Obama is a slow burn. Always has been. He builds to a high crescendo always, but with incredibly infinitesimally small increments. The election is over a year away. It’s best to loom for the indicators of what he intends to so later. The 2008 democratic primary candidates can tell you just how slow, yet inexorable, his pacing is.
B) even if he were a bombast and drang kind of guy, it would be too soon to start throwing haymakers. It does no good for the incumbent to come out and destroy his opponents in the next few months — there’d be no momentum in 2012. He’d appear “feckless” when he actually needs to seem invincible. It would be one thing if the American public had a memory exceeding 60 days. Since they don’t, NEXT summer has to be the time for big swings. Right now, he needs to appear sane and engaged which, I think if you look closely, he will appear. Especially looking back in a year. Right now is the time to let the GOP throw it’s big punches and tire itself out. To dodge and rope-a-dope. And, in terms of governing, he just needs to govern. Tricky balance, sure. But the right way for this bleak season, I think.
CHRIS PUMMER: What Akie says is significant. A lot of the Democratic base might be spoiling for that big fight, but then what? Back the big talk up with… gridlock? Because that is exactly what we have, and dialing up the rhetoric to histrionics now is guaranteed to make the GOP dig in its heels on an already entrenched strategy of total opposition.
Obama will probably score his political points off of that some time. But not if he has to preside over two full years of it. Not if absolutely nothing gets done between now and 14 months from now.
HOWARD MEGDAL: But do you honestly think anything at all will be passed, no matter what? The GOP opposes tax cuts they’ve sought for years.
CHRIS PUMMER: No. But if Obama can’t get anything done, he at least needs to maintain the perception that he’s the reasonable half of this equation. Sauntering acting like he’s going to break it off in someone’s ass — like everyone upset about this speech time stuff wanted SO BADLY — and then failing? Much worse. Looks much more ineffectual that way.
I think any effective action taken by anyone, it will be by the Fed.
HOWARD MEGDAL: Well, feel like I am going in circles, but that isn’t what I wanted. I want him to think two moves ahead, so he doesn’t end up caving in a dispute of his own making.
CHRIS PUMMER: Perhaps he is in a higher-stakes game. Maybe not. But this is hardly an indicator of anything.