Obama asks for prime-time joint session of Congress for jobs speech

posted at 1:25 pm on August 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, Barack Obama chose the venue to announce his long-awaited jobs plan — a joint session of Congress in prime time.  However, at least one network might have a problem providing Obama coverage:

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requesting a Joint Session of Congress on September 7th at 8pm to present his economic growth plan to the nation.

Obama writes that it is his intention “to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”

Obama’s announcement conflicts with a long-scheduled debate between the Republican presidential candidates at the Reagan Library sponsored by NBC and POLITICO.

Just to remind everyone, that debate has been planned for months.  It will take place at the Reagan Library at the exact same time as Obama has requested.  It’s too late for candidates to rearrange their schedules, but it’s perhaps possible for the debate to take place later in the evening.  Even so, Howard Kurtz took to Twitter to wonder what the White House was thinking:

Wouldn’t it have been better for Obama to have night to himself for jobs speech, rather than being followed by GOP debate? Shares news cycle

Maybe Obama and his team figured that an address to Congress would outshine the debate in media coverage, but that would only be true if Obama actually has a significantly new plan — or indeed, any plan.  The last time Obama asked for a joint session was during the ObamaCare debate, where the White House suggested through friendly media leaks that Obama would have something new to add to the debate.  All he accomplished was to ramp up the partisan vitriol without presenting any new ideas at all.

Joint-session presidential speeches are usually reserved for either State of the Union addresses (and for a SOTU substitute for newly-installed Presidents, usually called “budget messages”), inaugurations, or for heavily-weighted moments.  Both Obama and Bill Clinton gave health-care reform addresses to joint sessions.  Otherwise, most of the historic use of joint sessions have to do with war, either their start or their finish.  George W. Bush used it only once outside of the SOTU/budget message paradigm, and that was to address the nation after the 9/11 attacks and declare a War on Terror.   Reagan gave one on the Geneva Summit in 1985, certainly a heavily-weighted moment in the Cold War.

By putting his jobs speech into the context of historical presidential addresses, Obama is setting a high bar on expectations for his new plan.  If all he delivers is the same speeded-up infrastructure spending, gimmicky tax breaks, and social-engineering subsidies for Democratic hobby-horse industries, then he’s risking a spectacular failure — and even more questions about his political and economic competence.

Update: William Jacobson tells Beohner to reject the request:

I assume that protocol is that a President gets to give a speech to a Joint Session of Congress whenever he wants, but this is abusive and purely political.

Just say No.

That may sound satisfying, but a rejection will put Boehner on the spot to explain himself.  I doubt that there has been a precedent of a Speaker refusing a joint-session request, and I also doubt one will start now.

Besides, this actually plays well for Republicans.  Usually, the opposition party gets a few minutes for a rebuttal speech, shot in an anteroom with none of the drama and flair of a joint session speech.  Instead, the GOP will have eight or nine responses to Obama on live television in a dramatic setting.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Republicans at the debate decide individually to focus their criticisms on Obama all night long and his plan, especially if — as I suspect — the plan will amount to a junior-grade Porkulus.

At the same time, it’s going to be obvious to everyone that the White House manipulated this for his re-election efforts, which will further reduce Obama’s credibility and the credibility of his proposal.  And the first rule of political campaigning is not to get in the way of your opponent when he’s busy shooting himself in the foot.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4

Way to go, Boehner. Well done, respectful to “the office” but limit setting at the same time

clnurnberg on August 31, 2011 at 4:42 PM

He’s talking to Barry like one talks to a naughty child: “Jimmy, you cannot just run out into the street like that. You might get hurt! Now stand here next to mommy until the traffic clears, OK?”

Heh, heh.

Rational Thought on August 31, 2011 at 4:45 PM

The Republican candidates should walk away from the debate. The hell with NBC, let them take the hit for King Barry’s insanity.

Knucklehead on August 31, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Agreed. Do it “in deference” to the pResident. That will surely take the winds out of Maxine’s and the CBC’s sails. They can never again say that the republicans are “disrespectin’ the president cuz he’s Black” again now, can she?

Key West Reader on August 31, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Boehner gives Obama an elegant bird. Kudos, Mr. Boehner. On this you’ve done good; plus, the stations will hate that it’s the start of the NFL. Wondeful.

It’s not all about you, Mr. President, and your teleprompter.

The prompter could read his crap at any time.

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Whichever night it is, Joe Wilson has my permission to yell “You lie!”

Rational Thought on August 31, 2011 at 4:47 PM

He’s talking to Barry like one talks to a naughty child: “Jimmy, you cannot just run out into the street like that. You might get hurt! Now stand here next to mommy until the traffic clears, OK?”

Heh, heh.

Rational Thought on August 31, 2011 at 4:45 PM

You’re a good one. Thanks for the chuckle.

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Boehner give Obama an elegant bird. Here’s the official version.

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Now let Obama throw a tantrum and INSIST on the time he has selected. Watch, he’ll do it.

Key West Reader on August 31, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Is it too early for Boehner 2012?

faraway on August 31, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Key West Reader on August 31, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Hell, no!

No deferring to this Dingbat Messiah we have. We will be called racist no matter what we do, so we might as well take him on every day starting yesterday.

Really Right on August 31, 2011 at 4:50 PM

a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy

So why wait till the 7th or the 8th? Why not in the next 2 hours?
Obama said he had a plan BEFORE he went on vacation.
He is saying today he HAS a plan to layout, so why wait?
Does Obama hate America?

DSchoen on August 31, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Ojesus has become King Petty, with apologies to Richard (#43).

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 4:59 PM

My suggestion:

Boehner agrees to the speech provided

(1) it is moved one hour earlier.

You can’t do that, because Obama would just make everyone tap their feet while he’a an hour late – as usual.

disa on August 31, 2011 at 5:00 PM

This is a purely partisan move by BO and Boehner should decline it for that reason. Make BO explain why he needed that one hour in time. I’ll bet you will see his schedule is busy with fundraising.

Boehner better say no…there is no reason whatsoever to have a joint session for BO’s political speech.

David in ATL on August 31, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Agreed. Do it “in deference” to the pResident. That will surely take the winds out of Maxine’s and the CBC’s sails. They can never again say that the republicans are “disrespectin’ the president cuz he’s Black” again now, can she?

Key West Reader on August 31, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Silly boy, nothing will shut down their b.s…

disa on August 31, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Obamboozled by his own bamboozling attempt!

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Who does ObaMao think that he is: Chavez or Castro?

onlineanalyst on August 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Someone needs to point out the Financial Impact on this issue. In the first place, the debates are being held at the Reagan Library which is located in CALIFORNIA, which is a Union Only state governing contracts for:
Staging
Lighting
Cameras
Sound
Satellite trucks
Transcribers for Close Captioning
Security
Production Assistants
Grips
Gaffers
Sound Crew
Camera Crew
Caterers
Stylists
Legal and Insurance
Advertising Production and Schedules

and booking Satellite Time

+ plus a million more things involved in the “over 1 year of planning and promotion” of the event. All of these contracts have already been drawn up and signed for some time. In a Union state, there are significant penalties for “running late” or rescheduling. IF and that’s a BIG IF, all of your staffing is even available. Nor does it include the costs that the contracts and expenses the campaigns have already incurred for travel, lodging and on site staffing.

This is a very big Financial hit that Obama is asking a number of people to take on his behalf.

Another set of costs on this, is the loss of advertising dollars that will be experienced by the Networks as well as the local affiliates when he does finally give this speech.

Seems to me that rather than play polite politics with this dunder headed move by the Obama Campaign, that a really smart reporter (or Speaker of the House) would be on the phone with the Accountant for the Debate and put a number of people employed and $$$ involved to Obama’s little temper tantrum.

Talk about a jobs lost issue!

2nd Ammendment Mother on August 31, 2011 at 5:30 PM

This is a perfect opportunity to cement Obama’s one and done status. All Speaker Boehner has to do is ask President Obama to answer questions from the members, Prime Minister style.

meci on August 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM

This is a perfect opportunity to cement Obama’s one and done status. All Speaker Boehner has to do is ask President Obama to answer questions from the members, Prime Minister style. Then immediately call on Rep Maxine Waters to ask the first question on black unemployment

meci on August 31, 2011 at 5:52 PM

“…to summarize my plan is to take every unemployed person and make them a government employee making, on the average, three times the wages of any private employee. In this way we reduce the unemployment rate to -0- and, of course, you know, the higher the wages the more spending they’ll do-stimulating the economy.”

MaiDee on August 31, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Childish is the mildest thing that I can come up with.

We don’t need a president who is subject to tantrums, which is all we’ve seen of late from The One We’ve Been Waiting For.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Anti-business flaming liberal community-organizing figureheads have no business giving a “jobs” speech in the first place.

It’s a joke…

…and a bad one at that.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 6:14 PM

I think the possibility of having the GOP on after Obama makes a fool of himself talking about creating jobs should be considered. Then every GOP candidate could critique the plan before the whole country and take advantage of exposing his inadequacies to the American public. This ia an opportunity to expose his arrogance and prove to the American people how incompetent he really is.

volsense on August 31, 2011 at 6:42 PM

And the first rule of political campaigning is not to get in the way of your opponent when he’s busy shooting himself in the foot.

Obama’s foot should look like swiss cheese by now.

chickasaw42 on August 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM

Tick tock
Said the clock
There’s an organizer
On the block.

Tock tick
There’s the pr!ck
Doing his best
To be a dick.

Tick tock
It’s time to rock
Let’s watch football;
This guy’s a crock.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:43 PM

This filter is crazy; I can say the eff word no problem, but try to say prikk and you get censored.

???

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:45 PM

This filter is crazy; I can say the eff word no problem, but try to say prikk and you get censored.

???

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:45 PM

That’s because of drug spam, for you-know-what. Phallus seems to get through though.

slickwillie2001 on August 31, 2011 at 7:48 PM

This filter is crazy; I can say the eff word no problem, but try to say prikk and you get censored.

???

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:45 PM

That’s because of drug spam, for you-know-what. Phallus seems to get through though.

slickwillie2001 on August 31, 2011 at 7:48 PM

I wonder if “peckerhead” is verboten?

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:52 PM

I guess not. Who knew?

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Sorry for the repeat, but the President does NOT invite himself. The Speaker invites him.

barnone on August 31, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2011 at 4:31 PM

My apologies Mr. Speaker. You did good.

Mr. Grump on August 31, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Well, it turns out that Obama has self-reduced his own stature to the point that Boehner had no problem saying ‘no’.

Respectfully, of course.

ElRonaldo on August 31, 2011 at 8:56 PM

Let him publish his jobs plan and stay off of my TV.

rplat on August 31, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Agreed. Do it “in deference” to the pResident. That will surely take the winds out of Maxine’s and the CBC’s sails. They can never again say that the republicans are “disrespectin’ the president cuz he’s Black” again now, can she?

Key West Reader on August 31, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Your thinking like a logical conservative. For a liberal it is all in the moment with no thought of history, consequences, or logic.

Franklyn on August 31, 2011 at 10:55 PM

Who does ObaMao think that he is: Chavez or Castro?

onlineanalyst on August 31, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Hu Jintao. He recently mentioned how much he evied the way the leader of China could just make it so with no need to be concerned with what the people thought. We should add a twist of emperor since he and his domestic partner clearly prefer the trappings of royality and the money of those they govern.

Franklyn on August 31, 2011 at 11:09 PM

What we are seeing from Boehner is just political niceness.

The Constitution says that only Congress can call a joint session of Congress. The president is then “invited” to address them for the reason they called the session.

It seems that Obama just sent letters to Boehner and Ried saying he wanted them make the arrangement for him to speak to them. Of course he just thought Congress was his to command, as he did for the years that Democrats controlled it. In this case he was commanding Congress to meet so he could address them. The bases for him to be allowed to do that was that no president had ever been denied the request to meet a joint session of Congress.

It is doubtful that he, the constitutional scholar, or any of his liberal socialist/communist handlers were aware that the joint session protocal was even in the constitution. After all it is so big and long that you can stick the whole thing in you shirt pocket. If it is not a thousand pages long, how could it possibly be important?

Still, Carney sort of let the cat out of the bag with his comment about how hard it is for the president to schedule air time with all the wild animal and chef shows to contend with. Just take the time slot that the republicans prepared to use months ago, after all, he won.

This is really going to mess up his own game day plans infront of the big screen TV. Maybe he will have some success with getting them to delay the games an hour to give him a chance to get home and wind down a bit before kick off.

Franklyn on September 1, 2011 at 2:24 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4