I found it kind of hilarious that Twitter exploded with the news of the finally-revealed Royal Baby’s name at about the same time that President Obama was really getting into his groove at his “major” economic speech kicking off jobs-pivot #58493 in Illinois this afternoon — and by “major,” I mean eighty-ish minutes of the same ridiculous recycled phrases and economically backwards platitudes about a lot of new “investments” and stimulus and federal initiatives and whatever else that I think we can safely say probably aren’t going to happen. I personally thought the best bit was when the president blamed the “parade of distractions” and “phony scandals” that have allowed Congress to “take its eye off the ball” of economic recovery — it was a like a distraction within a distraction, you know?
They’ll talk about government assistance for the poor, despite the fact that they’ve already cut early education for vulnerable kids, they’ve already cut insurance for people who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Or they’ll bring up Obamacare — this is tried and true — despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery as businesses had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare. That’s what we’ve been fighting for, but with an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. This needs to stop.
The speech is really only news because there isn’t that much news out there, and how delivering yet another speech full of been-there-done-that Keynesian grandiosity is going to help to breakup the longstanding gridlock in Washington the president so sincerely bemoaned, I have no idea — but, then again, that really wasn’t the point. As Chris Cilliza points out at WaPo, we’ve got another round of debt-ceiling warfare coming this fall, and this and an incoming series of economy-focused speeches are probably more of a way to get out in front with messaging than anything else:
Instead what the speech seemed designed to do is to re-state the arguments that worked during the campaign for Obama in hopes of framing the coming government shutdown and debt ceiling debates on friendly political ground for the President and Congressional Democrats. He did so more pointedly than he had in the past and with more urgency as well, pledging to spend the next several weeks touring the country — he will stop in Florida and Missouri later this week — making the case.
The Obama speech then wasn’t really about trying to ensure any near-term forward movement. Instead it was about positioning — both for the policy fights to come this fall and for the midterm elections next November.