Sept 1st, 2011
by F. Grey Parker
It was the smartest possible move.
GOP is putting party over country. The right wing echo chamber has lashed out in response to this. Yesterday, Obama gave the GOP a chance to disprove his accusations. They failed.
By requesting a joint session of congress next week to make a major jobs speech on the same night as the GOP debate, the President put Speaker Boehner (R-OH) in the position of becoming the first in history to deny such a request. That Boehner did so in favor of an intra-party TV spectacle provides the starkest view yet seen of just how far the Republican brand has gone down the rabbit hole.This Speaker is one of the least able in decades and one of the weakest within his own party in living memory. The debt limit fiasco exposed his total inability not only to forge consensus, but to restrain his own fringe.
Obama knew Boehner couldn't do the right thing without eroding his own power further. The President exposed the Speaker for the self-interested buffoon that he is and the party as one of disrespectful opportunists. The Republican primary is a year away. The field is not only still open, but is also still filled with peripheral longshots and outright loons. No reasonable American can argue that the GOP debate will have any real benefit to the country or the economy. But, it is now overtly declared to be that party's higher priority.
The Democratic Party now has the best 30 second spot in a generation, ready made to hammer their foes next year over their hyper-partisanship and it was handed to them on a platter.
I can see it now. And so can the DNC. "When the President tried to fight for jobs, the Republicans fought for a TV show."
It is brilliant.
Of course, some members of the American left, infected with their own version of Obama Derangement Syndrome, have seized on this as a "sign of weakness." This begs two questions. First, have they ever heard of the concept of the long game? More importantly, have they ever played chess?
The GOP ran last year on "jobs, jobs, jobs" and "protecting medicare." They have run the House this year without a single employment bill coupled with a coordinated effort to gut the social contract. All the while, they have unfairly accused the President of not paying attention to jobs. When the President comes forward to specifically address employment, he is outright told by the opposition, during the worst economic crisis in 80 years, that it is not as important as electoral politics.
The shrewd strategy of the Obama team is demonstrated by this move in other ways. The GOP's preference for their own will to power over forging policy is now part of next week's debate.
Does anyone honestly believe that Obama would have preferred to speak to the nation just prior to the GOP gathering? The various hopefuls would have had a chance to capitalize on whatever he said. Now, not only will the President be able to put the final touches on his jobs speech after examining the fresh extremes of those who would unseat him, he will be delivering it on the night of the NFL's first game of the season. Millions more televisions than usual will be on as a matter of course. It is not at all unlikely that the President will reach a wider audience than any other night of the year could provide.
To see this sacrificed pawn as a checkmate is a failure to grasp the game itself.