Remember, no less a partisan shill than James Carville told ABC this morning that the White House was “out of bounds” in trying to bigfoot the debate. But now the left is grumpy about the optics of Boehner having successfully forced Zeus to wait a day, so here’s the inevitable ingratiating “damn those wingnuts” lament from Mount Olympus:
The White House was well aware the president’s speech would conflict with a planned Republican debate sponsored by POLITICO and NBC to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The debate would be broadcast live by MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo and live-streamed by POLITICO.
Yet the White House did not see this as an obstacle. “With all due respect, the POLITICO-MSNBC debate was one that was going on a cable station,” the White House source said. “It was not sacrosanct. We knew they would push it back and then there would be a GOP debate totally trashing the president. So it wasn’t all an upside for us.”…
At about 10 or 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, White House chief of staff Bill Daley called House Speaker John Boehner and asked that a joint session of Congress be assembled the following Wednesday night. The White House viewed Boehner as a political opponent, but not an enemy and the call was cordial, even pro forma considering such a request had never before been refused.
And, according to the White House source, Boehner said “okay” to Daley’s request for the Wednesday evening date.
Supposedly it was Rush Limbaugh ripping into Obama’s timing plus some grumbling from congressional Republicans that changed Boehner’s mind. True or false? Boehner may have reasoned initially that refusing Obama’s request would play into the White House’s “party over country” crap, notwithstanding the fact that delaying the speech so that they could counterprogram the GOP debate is itself an example of prioritizing partisanship. (If this jobs plan is the solution to America’s problems, why wouldn’t they want the country’s undivided attention for the speech introducing it?) Then, once the base got angry, Boehner might have reconsidered. I can buy that — except that it’s curious Jay Carney’s statement last night said nothing about Boehner having initially approved Wednesday as the day. All he said was that they’d “consulted” with Boehner earlier, which New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza took as a tacit admission that they’d never cleared anything with the Republican leadership in advance. Hmmm.
Having said that, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that this entire moronic episode could have been avoided had O simply asked to address Congress later. But he was apparently intent to have it on the night of the debate — note the boldface part in the blockquote — which means Carney did indeed lie shamelessly to the press yesterday when he said the timing was a coincidence. Here he is this afternoon lying again, insisting that no one cares when the speech is scheduled — except for every Democrat in America, apparently — and that the White House is A-OK with it happening on Thursday. Except, of course, that they’re very much not. But otherwise, spot on.