National Journal's Condon Relishes Obama Attempt to Preempt GOP Debate

August 31st, 2011 4:41 PM

"Obama Takes Republicans' Night From Them With Speech," exults the August 31 headline for National Journal reporter George Condon Jr.'s story on the president's wish to give a speech on his economic recovery plan on September 7.

The text of the article practically rings with approval of the president's rude and presumptuous request (emphasis mine):

Next Wednesday night was supposed to belong to the Republicans. It was to be a showcase for the eight GOP presidential contenders, a chance to use two hours of national television coverage of their debate in California to bash President Obama. A chance to look presidential.

But with only 198 words in a letter to the leaders of Congress, Obama has reminded them who is president right now. And it doesn’t get much more presidential than commanding the members of the House and the Senate to sit there in a joint session to get their marching orders from the commander in chief.

In deciding on the grandest possible venue to unveil Obama's jobs plan and in picking Sept. 7 even though it clashes with the Republican candidates’ debate in California, the White House is playing political hardball. But it is also ratcheting up the pressure to deliver a program that is more than just a rehash of past proposals and is bold enough to put the economy on a course more positive than today’s.

If Obama falls short on that measure, if his proposal looks timid or inadequate, he could regret seeking that large stage. But that will not be known until later. The immediate impact is on politics, and it assuredly leaves the eight challengers steaming and the debate sponsors miffed.

In his letter requesting the audience, the president placed his speech above politics. “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. And we must answer this call,” he wrote. (Both chambers of Congress would have to approve such a session by passage of a joint resolution.)

Obama promised to use the speech “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 [of] working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”

At the White House, officials professed to be shocked at any suggestion that they would intentionally step on the planned GOP debate. “Of course not,” insisted a wounded-looking press secretary Jay Carney at his daily briefing. Asked how 8 p.m. Wednesday was selected, he responded, “There were a lot of considerations. You have to deal with Congress’s schedule. This is one debate of many, that is on one channel of many. That was not enough reason not to have it.”