Obama’s joint-session effort yet another attempt at The Big Speech effect

posted at 2:45 pm on September 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

To say that expectations are low heading into Barack Obama’s speech tonight to a joint session of Congress is to engage in the art of pointed understatement.  Never in the history of extraordinary joint-session speeches has so little been expected of a President.  Even before his joint-session speech two years ago on the topic of health-care reform, the White House stoked speculation that Obama had a new plan that would change the debate.  Instead, he delivered an ambiguous, rambling series of platitudes and generalities that created more problems for Democrats than it solved.

The Washington Post reports that Obama believes that he can turn his political fortunes around just by giving The Big Speech:

Barack Obama has been here before — politically endangered, doubts mounting about his leadership, and a growing sense that, for all his promise, he has lost his way.

As he has done before — whether to salvage a candidacy or revive a policy — Obama will resort to a device that has been successful for him in the past: the Big Speech.

With most of the country saying he has mismanaged the economy, President Obama will use an address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday to outline his plan to create jobs and head off a second recession. It will be the fifth time Obama has spoken to a joint session, the howitzer of the presidential communications arsenal.

But the risks this time are as high as the potential for any reward.

It’s the fifth joint-session speech, but two of those were State of the Union addresses and the third was the traditional “budget message” from a newly-inaugurated President that takes place in lieu of a SOTU address.   But Obama’s problem with the big-speech strategy goes well beyond the Capitol Hill setting.  The RNC reminds us that Obama used the infrastructure-as-stimulus argument repeatedly.  It was a year ago today in Parma, Ohio when Obama said this:

He said a lot of other things in Parma that we’re likely to hear again tonight, too:

“And so people are frustrated, and they’re angry, and they’re anxious about the future. I understand that. I also understand that in a political campaign, the easiest thing for the other side to do is to ride this fear and anger all the way to election day.”

“Now, let me give you another example. We want to put more Americans back to work rebuilding America: our roads, our railways, our runways. When the housing sector collapsed and the recession hit, one in every four jobs lost were in the construction industry. That’s partly why our economic plan has invested in badly needed infrastructure projects over the last 19 months, not just roads and bridges, but high-speed railroads and expanded broadband access. Altogether, these projects have led to thousands of good private sector jobs, especially for those in the trades.”

“Now, there are still thousands of miles of railroads and railways and runways left to repair and improve. And engineers, economists, Governors, mayors of every political stripe believe that if we want to compete in this global economy, we need to rebuild this vital infrastructure. There is no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the most modern airports. We want to put America to work building them right here in America.”

Nate Beeler at the Washington Examiner frames the viewer choice perfectly for tonight:

Does it have to be a rerun?  No.  Obama could seize control of the narrative by offering something new, concrete, and effective.  The best way to do that would be to unleash American energy exploration, extraction, and production, but Obama opposes that too fundamentally to make that shift.  He could also repeal ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank and put a leash on the EPA and NLRB, but he’s counting on regulatory adventurism to accomplish his agenda now that Congress will block it. Don’t expect any wiggle on the two areas that are wreaking the most damage on the economy.

However, Obama might decide to go all in on tax reform, an area that could bring plenty of benefit to both parties.  If Obama proposes to significantly lower rates in the corporate and personal income tax while eliminating most of the deductions inserted by social-engineering politicians over the last several decades, it would make the investment environment more clear and compliance much less onerous.  Republicans would be able to claim victory with lower rates and a broadened tax base; Democrats could brag about cutting off corporate welfare in the tax code.  That would at least give Obama some political momentum on Capitol Hill and make this speech different from practically every other speech he’s made over the last three years on the economy.

Even if he does, though, Obama will need to produce a scoreable plan for the CBO.  Don’t forget that Obama’s last big speech on deficit reduction in April ended up being so ambiguous that no one could score his proposals, and that Obama still hasn’t produced a plan from that speech.  If Obama ends up delivering another series of ambiguous wish lists and a demand for another $400 billion in pork and bailouts, not only will viewers start tuning in the Packers-Saints pregame show, voters will tune out Obama for good for the next two seasons.

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Respect is something you earn.

kingsjester on September 8, 2011 at 2:48 PM

So when does the drinking game start…?

Seven Percent Solution on September 8, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Seven Percent Solution on September 8, 2011 at 2:49 PM

6 p.m. Central. Just don’t base it off the word “I”.

kingsjester on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Wonder how many votes obama loses in WI and other locations if his speech goes into overtime. Maybe they’ll bring in the red card from soccer and pull him out

ConservativePartyNow on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

I know the Presidency ages the office holder… but holy cow that vid of Obama was only a year ago? He looks like he’s aged 10 years in one!

Sarjex on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

This was all a misunderstanding. It all started when a White House aide called up someone in Boehner’s office and asked if it was ok if they had a joint while they watched the debate.

pedestrian on September 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Maybe it would help if they brought those Greek columns in….make him more relaxed

Blame, blame, blame is the name of the game

cmsinaz on September 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM

The American Jobs Act

It’s an act all right.

faraway on September 8, 2011 at 2:53 PM

As said on another blog…better to rub broken glass in your eyes than to watch Obama tonight. I have no desire to do either and I don’t care about the game so DVR here I come. HA, Glenn and Rush will tell me all I need to know about the speech tomorrow.

Extrafishy on September 8, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Ho-hum.

However, what’s up with Bachmann?

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/08/bachmann-to-hold-press-conference-post-obama-speech/

cs89 on September 8, 2011 at 2:54 PM

So when does the drinking game start…?

Seven Percent Solution on September 8, 2011 at 2:49 PM

If you want to stay sober, drink every time he says “green jobs”.

forest on September 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM

I know the Presidency ages the office holder… but holy cow that vid of Obama was only a year ago? He looks like he’s aged 10 years in one!

Sarjex on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Who knew golf could take so much out of you?

catmman on September 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM

So the people who are out-of-work due to the slowdown in housing construction will be able to switch over to paving streets and building bridges and airports? Cool!

exhelodrvr on September 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Trumka will be sitting with Moochelle- that’s all I need to know about what this “speech” is really all about.

jjshaka on September 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Every time he says “political games” you have to drink.

John the Libertarian on September 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Seize the initiative, take the bull by the horns (boy), unleash the audacity of self-confidence, go big, and do the right thing; show those chumps what it means to be presidential.

Give a speech, take it to the American People, take it to the streets and protest those republicans. This is it, this is the moment you have been waiting for, you can do it son. Be bold, be assertive.

You can be President for Life, of a Transformed America, if you do this right.

Skandia Recluse on September 8, 2011 at 2:58 PM

not just roads and bridges, but high-speed railroads

unicorn farms, solar factories and car engines that run on love.

mankai on September 8, 2011 at 2:59 PM

So when does the drinking game start…?

Seven Percent Solution on September 8, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Seven Percent Solution on September 8, 2011 at 2:49 PM

6 p.m. Central. Just don’t base it off the word “I”.

kingsjester on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Will the Moon be up over Parma by then?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JexaQUq8YAY

Del Dolemonte on September 8, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Obama could seize control of the narrative by offering something new, concrete, and effective. The best way to do that would be to unleash American energy exploration, extraction, and production, but Obama opposes that too fundamentally to make that shift.

.
Ø could also become a Republican but, then, there would be all that union mischief to guard against. They would want their “investment” money back, with interest, as well.

ExpressoBold on September 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Obama can’t do anything fundamental to improve things. His base is already jumping ship over his perceived weakness vis-a-vis the Congressional Republicans. Tax cuts or regulatory easing would drive them off completely. If anything, he’ll double down on the partisan blame-laying, the populist corporate jet crap (irony alert!)and sucking up to the unions.

He’s got no maneuvering room. Expect him to go down in flames. Should be fun to read about. (I’m sure as hell not going to watch the imbecile.)

Cicero43 on September 8, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Tonight he finally announces the free gas and mortgage payment programs we were promised.

mankai on September 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Apparently the WH and Dems want to lose in a landslide next year 50% Tax Rate??!!??

ConservativePartyNow on September 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Obama could….

Obama might…

I have better odds winning the Powerball this Sunday, and that will only cost me a dollar…

karl9000 on September 8, 2011 at 3:03 PM

If it helps the President, here’s a big reason why small businesses aren’t creating jobs.

(Hint Mr. President: Taking steps to either encourage or force banks to lend more won’t fix the real problem – it makes it worse….)

ironman on September 8, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Maybe it would help if they brought those Greek columns in….make him more relaxed

Blame, blame, blame is the name of the game

cmsinaz on September 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I swear if they dust them off and bring them out this season, he will look like such an utter fool. So, I really, really want him to do it!

sherry on September 8, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Unless Obama does a Clinton-esque 180 and moves seriously to the center, he’s toast.

If it’s more of the same-old shovel-ready Government Buy-A-Job, it will never get through the House.

As a famous orator who sent tingles up Chris Matthews’ leg used to say, “the same old failed policies of the past”. How about some Change We Can Believe In?

Steve Z on September 8, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Obama’s going to talk tonight, but no actions will result from it. At best, he’ll encourage some Democrats to pass some legislation that may or may not resemble some of Obama’s suggestions. Best for him, anyway.

hawksruleva on September 8, 2011 at 3:05 PM

He could also repeal ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank and put a leash on the EPA and NLRB

Lacking a real, firm commitment in writing to quit killing jobs and reverse past job-killers, there is no point in watching or listening to the blatherer in chief.

I’d rather watch football…or 1970 TV series re-runs if no football is available. All the choices are pointless, but at least football and the old TV series re-runs are entertaining.

landlines on September 8, 2011 at 3:05 PM

I plan on watching the pre-game show followed by the football game tonight. And I am NOT a football fan.

milwife88 on September 8, 2011 at 3:06 PM

It’s incredible the Chosen One actually believes giving another vacuous speech will change the landscape. This guy has become a world class narcissist.

David in ATL on September 8, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Partially his fault and partially the media’s fault: calling his a$$-covering speech to protect his reputation from that of Reverend Wright’s one of the greatest speeches since the Gettysburg Address (writing here from Gettysburg, I was especially galled) and not saying a peep about it when he dumped the good Reverend just a few weeks later.

thebrokenrattle on September 8, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Maybe it would help if they brought those Greek columns in….make him more relaxed

Blame, blame, blame is the name of the game

cmsinaz on September 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I still think the GOP should find those columns and use them as the set for their convention. They could start out with the columns in disrepair, fallen over, and covered in cobwebs and dirt. That first day, speakers should paint an accurate picture of the despair, poverty and misery that many, even many Obama voters, find themself in.

Then, as the GOP lays out the case for new ideas and a new approach to solving America’s problems, you clean up the set, until you’re left with the front of the Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to a great Republican.

hawksruleva on September 8, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Is the American Jobs Act an actual piece of legislation, written down and printed out, or is this just an “act” in the theatrical sense?

Dhuka on September 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Who knew golf could take so much out of you?

catmman on September 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Everyone of those grey hairs is from a bogey…

PatriotRider on September 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM

The irony of this moment is Obama is speaking when he should be listening.

Paul-Cincy on September 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

I plan on watching the pre-game show followed by the football game tonight. And I am NOT a football fan.

milwife88 on September 8, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Oh when the Saints go marchin’ in to Lambeau, they’ll see O on TV and ask WHODAT?

Steve Z on September 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

hawksruleva on September 8, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Noooooo. I prefer No Hollywood toys.
A man……a plan…throw in some integrity and conviction…

That’s all.

bridgetown on September 8, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Dow tanking as word about speech comes out

ConservativePartyNow on September 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM

As said on another blog…better to rub broken glass in your eyes than to watch Obama tonight. I have no desire to do either and I don’t care about the game so DVR here I come. HA, Glenn and Rush will tell me all I need to know about the speech tomorrow.

Extrafishy on September 8, 2011 at 2:54 PM

I’d rather rub my eyes after cutting jalapenos than watch this fool…

PatriotRider on September 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Instead, he delivered an ambiguous, rambling series of platitudes and generalities that created more problems for Democrats than it solved.

Yet Ford said he’s “the best orator of all times”.

The Washington Post reports that Obama believes that he can turn his political fortunes around just by giving The Big Speech:

Yep, pigs can sure fly.

“Oh, my god, they used the word stimulus on that cartoon” –Pelosi

Schadenfreude on September 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM

More important than all the anal-ysis of Osama Obama’s speech tonight is the only conclusion one can draw from the talking points (leaked by Ace, who has a good handle on the SCoaMF) is that the SCoaMF is planning to deliver an almost totally partisan speech.

That is against tradition for a joint-session appearance, and further debases the presidency, something one hardly imagines the Traitor-in-Chief could still manage after 2 1/2 years of American-hating activities.

MrScribbler on September 8, 2011 at 3:14 PM

The American Jobs Act

Not the U.S, or even North America… Two continents worth. Suddenly, the Canadian buses, Hilda’s car and Brazil’s oil contracts all make sense.

Fallon on September 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM

The stupidity of Obama’s plan is just astounding. The guy is deliberately asking Congress for something he KNOWS he’s not going to get just so he can whine to the American people about Republican “obstructionism”.

But here’s the inside scoop… polls show we don’t WANT any more “stimulus”. So, he’s whining on the sidelines about being thwarted over something no one wants anyway. Who’s supposed to give a rat’s hind leg if he’s “obstructed”?

In the end, he’s going into 2012 with empty pockets. And all because he’d rather play political games than to actually help this economy recover.

The guy’s a moron.

Murf76 on September 8, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Murf76 on September 8, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Not only “empty pockets”. He is completely empty, beginnign between the ears.

This guy is the biggest charlatan in all of history. Such must and will be punished.

Schadenfreude on September 8, 2011 at 3:20 PM

I’m not watching either football or this dog and pony show. I have a dinner meeting and thankfully won’t be near a TV.
It will be interesting to see the ratings afterwards.

atxcowgirl on September 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM

The stupidity of Obama’s plan is just astounding. The guy is deliberately asking Congress for something he KNOWS he’s not going to get just so he can whine to the American people about Republican “obstructionism”.
Murf76 on September 8, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Yes, but it was never about the plan. This whole scheme was cooked up to provide the stupids with the visual of the Dems standing and applauding while the Repubs sit with their arms folded. Then the spin doctors take over Fri with the obstructionist meme. It’ll happen. Bank on it.

Mr_Magoo on September 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Yes, but it was never about the plan. This whole scheme was cooked up to provide the stupids with the visual of the Dems standing and applauding while the Repubs sit with their arms folded. Then the spin doctors take over Fri with the obstructionist meme. It’ll happen. Bank on it.

Yep. This is about re-election and nothing else.

WitchDoctor on September 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Every speech Obozo gives now is an election speech. I’ve heard it before, and won’t be listening again…

stacman on September 8, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Wouldn’t it be a cool visual if the GOP, who actually attend, come with hand mirrors,
and with every hypocritical statement he speaks, they turn them in his direction ??

I crack myself up ;-)

pambi on September 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM

[quote]Now, let me give you another example. We want to put more Americans back to work rebuilding America: our roads, our railways, our runways. [/quote]

Why does/did he care about rebuilding runways for models to walk on??? I have never seen on of those collapse.

jeffn21 on September 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The irony of this moment is Obama is speaking when he should be listening.

Paul-Cincy on September 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Winner!

herm2416 on September 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Anybody know how his fundraising numbers are right now?

herm2416 on September 8, 2011 at 4:10 PM

The irony of this moment is Obama is speaking when he should be listening.

Paul-Cincy on September 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Winner!

herm2416 on September 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Agreed!

bridgetown on September 8, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Wouldn’t it be a cool visual if the GOP, who actually attend, come with hand mirrors,
pambi on September 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM

How about a take-off on Seinfeld when he brought the Tweety Pez dispenser to the piano recital and sat it in the chair. Obama would walk in and there would be hundreds of Tweety Pez dispensers all lined up in the chairs!

Mr_Magoo on September 8, 2011 at 4:14 PM

He could also repeal ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank and put a leash on the EPA and NLRB, but he’s counting on regulatory adventurism to accomplish his agenda now that Congress will block it.

If Barry promises in his speech to admit that Obamacare and Dodd-Frank were both huge, job-killing mistakes, calls on the House and Senate to immediately pass bills repealing those laws in their entirety, and demands that Congress send the repeal bills to his desk within 2 or 3 days so that he can sign them — why, I might even tune in to watch that speech.

Of course, the likelihood of him doing anything that sensible is right up there with the likelihood that he’ll announce himself to be a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure, and immediately tender his letter of resignation — but a person can dream.

AZCoyote on September 8, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Apparently the WH and Dems want to lose in a landslide next year 50% Tax Rate??!!?? (Big Tax Hikes Coming? [Weekly Standard])

ConservativePartyNow on September 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

I’m liking Rush’s prediction, especially since Carney said that everything in the plan was paid for. He’s going to propose a stimulus that will be paid for by a big tax hike “on the wealthiest Americans,” and the GOP will shoot it down. Then Obama will spend the next year talking about how the Republicans wouldn’t let him fix the economy, because they put politics before country. See, that talking point is already in place.

smellthecoffee on September 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM

I know the Presidency ages the office holder… but holy cow that vid of Obama was only a year ago? He looks like he’s aged 10 years in one!

Sarjex on September 8, 2011 at 2:50 PM

At age 50, he finds himself with the first real job he has had to do in his entire gilded life. You would find it difficult too!

slickwillie2001 on September 8, 2011 at 4:49 PM

“And so people are frustrated, and they’re angry, and they’re anxious about the future. I understand that. I also understand that in a political campaign, the easiest thing for the other side to do is to ride this fear and anger all the way to election day.”

“Hell, I did just that only a couple of years back!”

OBQuiet on September 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

If little Bammie gives the Republicans his famous middle-finger salute, I want them to all give it back to him.

slickwillie2001 on September 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

This whole scheme was cooked up to provide the stupids with the visual of the Dems standing and applauding while the Repubs sit with their arms folded. Then the spin doctors take over Fri with the obstructionist meme. It’ll happen. Bank on it.

Mr_Magoo on September 8, 2011 at 3:40 PM

No doubt. And it’s got no shot at working because people don’t want another stimulus. The only way a gimmick like that can fly is if the legislation you’re fighting for is popular. His isn’t. What’s more, his inability to get anything accomplished at all just confirms that his leadership skills are pretty much nonexistent. Something he should be a whole lot more worried about than putting on yet another whiny meme.

You’ve just got to scratch your head in wonderment sometimes that there’s apparently NO ONE advising this guy who has the sense God gave a goose.

Murf76 on September 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM

You’ve just got to scratch your head in wonderment sometimes that there’s apparently NO ONE advising this guy who has the sense God gave a goose.

Murf76 on September 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Terrorists, race baiters and slum lords aren’t known for their wit.

txhsmom on September 8, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Obama could seize control of the narrative by offering something new, concrete, and effective.

Like offering his resignation? I’d support that.

iurockhead on September 8, 2011 at 5:45 PM

However, Obama might decide to go all in on tax reform…

He won’t do that either. It’ll just be more finger-pointing and empty platitudes. But it will be praised by the usual MSM half-wits. But, hey, the halfwits have viewers so who’s worse, the simple-minded Brian Williams’ or the people who tune in that think he’s just dreamy? It’s ironic that it’s Dubya’s successor who’s the highest-profile victim of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Obama is not the malady, he’s a symptom. He’s the Donovan McNabb of presidents. The media and its hold on the drug-addled, guilt-lashed Boomers moving through the culture like a demographic blood clot are the sickness. They created the Beatles when they were young and innocent and Obama when they got old and embittered, after 50 years of thinking they know everything, and landing in the 21st century realizing they know nothing.

curved space on September 8, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Seeing that SCOAMF ‘fumble’ before the game was unexpected..

ChuckTX on September 8, 2011 at 10:53 PM

Magical Thinking, plus, giving speeches is all he actually knows how to do, he has no other skills.

LarryD on September 9, 2011 at 8:32 AM