President Obama has asked for a joint session of Congress to announce his much-touted jobs plan on the same day and time as the long-scheduled GOP Presidential debate.
The Hill reports:
In a letter to congressional leaders requesting the Sept. 7 slot, the president said he will urge Congress to put aside politics and focus on creating jobs during the 8 p.m. speech.
“As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs,” Obama wrote. “We must answer this call.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed that the scheduling was “coincidental,” and not purposefully intended to conflict with the debate.
“One debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough of a reason” to pick another date, he said.
But Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has a different take:
There are no coincidences in presidential politics.
Strategists spend hours poring over every word a president utters, every policy position he takes and every state he visits, a level of attention to detail that makes happenstance virtually nonexistent.
And so, when the White House announced today that President Obama would deliver his much-anticipated jobs speech on Sept. 7 at 8 pm — the exact same day and time that the 2012 Republican candidates are scheduled to debate in California — the idea that the timing was purely coincidental was, well, far-fetched.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the move “amateur politics” and said House Speaker John Boehner should reject the request.
William A. Jacobson of the blog Legal Insurrection, agreed:
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.
Jacobson writes that with Obama, “Everything, and I mean everything, about this guy is a political calculation down to the last syllable on the teleprompter.”
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air disagrees, noting that the move will be clearly obvious to everyone:
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.
Morrissey concludes by reminding readers of “the first rule of political campaigning”: Do not get in the way of your opponent when he’s busy shooting himself in the foot.
NBC News and Politico issued a tweet saying the debate would not be postponed.
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