Thursday, September 1, 2011


Okay, I had to sleep on this one - I purposely avoided any news on my television machine this morning and averted my eyes from any headlines online and in print as to not cloud my judgment or contaminate my thoughts. I wanted to take a step back after a pseudo-rant in a post outlining yesterday's events, venting on Twitter and debating with Twitter friends, and try to explain how I feel about them.

Last night I received an e-mail from Obama for America titled, "Frustrated."

Today I asked for a joint session of Congress where I will lay out a clear plan to get Americans back to work. Next week, I will deliver the details of the plan and call on lawmakers to pass it.
Whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them...
...It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on.
I know that you're frustrated by that. I am, too.
He then asked me to stand with him, which I did, and asked for a donation, which I didn't give.

You see, the President is right. I am frustrated. But this time there's more than a little frustration to go around on both sides. And I'm not normally a "both sides" guy.

Earlier in the day, the White House announced that they were finally making a highly anticipated speech to lay out a jobs plan for the struggling economy. For months, the petulant Boehner and the rest of the spoiled brats in the GOP cried, "Where are the jobs?" like a playground taunt. They swept into office in November of 2010 on the issue of "jobs, jobs, jobs" and have done absolutely nothing on that front, pivoting on a dime and making deficit reduction during a horrific recession their primary goal and doing anything and everything, including holding the debt ceiling hostage and causing a downgrade of the American economy by S & P in the process.

So here was the announcement. And the White House chose the first day that Congress is back in session. It's also the same date as the scheduled GOP Primary Debate at the Reagan Library. Now don't misunderstand. This wasn't a decision made willy-nilly. This wasn't some random "idiot staffer" throwing a dart at a calendar, as one tweeter tried to suggest. These things are known well in advance and coordination with 535 members of Congress, with major news outlets and networks are all planned. And I thought it was a brilliant strategy politically. Put the GOP between a rock and a hard place - make them choose. Do you care more about one of your many upcoming GOP debates, or are you being a serious party and really care about jobs for America despite your actions to the contrary? Perfect plan.

And then the unbelievable happened. Boehner refused the President of the United States his request for a joint session. He showed his hand - a jobs plan that he has been wailing about for months could wait another day.

FUCK YOU, BOEHNER! I thought. If you don't think this is of the utmost importance, fine. Let the President take his address to the American people from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Show the dichotomy, plain for all of America to see. A president who cares about the unemployed against the GOP whose primary stated goal is making Obama a one-term president. Except the president wasn't so resolute.

The Obama email was time stamped at 10:38pm, about an hour after another "compromise" in which the President chose a specific date, September 7th, for an important joint session of Congress to address the nation's job issue, and Speaker of the House John Boehner refused the date, an unprecedented move and one that was most likely motivated more by a GOP primary debate conflict that same night rather than the House schedule, along with some Rush Limbaugh advice. Boehner suggested one night later, September 8th. So the two men talked. And the "compromise?" Or what passes for "compromise" nowadays? President Obama will give his address to a joint session of Congress on September 8th. All within a couple of hours, President Obama acquiesced yet again to Boehner and the GOP. And then he asked me for money.

And within minutes, there was the spin. On one side: "Obama caved again." On the other: "Obama is the only adult in the room." My initial reaction was the former, not the latter. Every once in a while when you're the only adult in the room, the spoiled brat needs a spanking. I'm still waiting for that spanking. And. It's. Fucking. Frustrating.

Now logically, sure, it makes sense that people would come to the defense of the President with the "adult" angle. The Party of No proves their moniker once again. The rancorous GOP shows they refuse to agree with the President about anything to show their extremist base they won't budge. John Boehner is at fault for putting party and politics ahead of the country. I get it. But I'm sorry, I can't turn on a dime that quickly. I can't call the choosing of the initial date great political strategy and within hours dismiss it as, eh, it's just a date. And I'm not going to let other people use that excuse either. Because it wasn't just a date. It was chosen specifically by the White House as a shot across the bow and before the battle began, there was a retreat.

And let's not pretend that it's insignificant. In the grand scheme of things, a specific date isn't the issue. It's about a continuing, troubling pattern of capitulation. There is no such thing as compromise anymore. There is no 50/50 meeting of the minds. From the public option, to the threat of government shutdown in the budget deal, to the threat of government default in the debt ceiling hostage negotiations, there has been no meeting in the middle. How many times will the President draw a line in the sand and then walk away from it? Unfortunately, optics matter. Spin matters. And to me, this just looks bad. That is why I'm frustrated. And I'm allowed to be frustrated.

I'll vote for President Obama. I'll contribute to his campaign. I'll work at the local campaign office when I can. I'll proudly wear my Obama t-shirt and display my lawn sign. But I'm allowed to be pissed off every once in a while.

So now the date is set for Thursday, September 8th, coinciding with the NFL season opener. I don't have to remind readers here that the majority of the country doesn't follow politics like we do. They're not wonks or cable news junkies and probably couldn't name the Secretary of State if asked. But they loves them some football. How many potential viewers will be lost by this move? I have a feeling it will be a significant number. Yes, we'll watch it because that's what we do. But on Friday, ask the average Joe Six Pack if he watched President Obama's joint session of Congress. See what answer you get.

My good friend and co-blogger Jennifer wrote a post last night using a "ball in the dirt" baseball analogy and comparing the President to a catcher controlling a ball thrown in the dirt to induce the batter to swing at a bad pitch and miss or ground out weakly. And that's a good analogy. But the problem is that in this situation, President Obama wasn't the catcher. He was the pitcher. He pitched a plan, a date for the speech. But batter Boehner didn't swing at it. He took the pitch for a ball. He then beared down at the plate and it was the perfect opportunity for Obama to throw one in high and tight; give him a little chin music. Instead, Obama didn't even challenge him.

Boehner walked.


Annette said...

Ah Yes, but you forgot the other figure in this equation. The media. They were having hissy fits over the fact the POTUS was going to go head to head with the GOPers debate. How dare he?

I am sure they would have cut away from his address to carry the debate instead. Just as they would have if he had done it in the office. They would never carry it in prime time. He has to have their approval too remember, and he didn't get it.

jhw22 said...

He IS the catcher in this scenario, Carl, and Boehner the pitcher. As much as we oppose the GOP, this wasn't necessarily an opposing team issue. Obama, the catcher, signaled a play to the pitcher, who always has final say, and the pitcher shook him off.

Because the Congress' schedule is theirs to control, the President could only request. He had no leverage. So in the end, he just needed to be ready to catch the ball on a strike.

And, as Annette said, the media made this scheduling thing far more dramatic than it needed to be. And liberals fed it, as well. I was immediately thrilled with the timing. I thought it was a big fuck you to the GOP. I loved it. But when everything was settled and a new date was selected, I decided that this is so moot. What matters is the speech. And even though some people keep a tally of his perceived weak moments, I'd much rather the meeting thing be a weak moment because it's a blip. I can't even remember all the blips but I know every damn time there has been a blip, there was outrage. And that outrage passed. And in the meantime, the outrage distracted us from real issues. So, as we are strong and tough with our language, our President is controlling the ball that the pitcher threw into the dirt.

And, truly, the more I have LISTENED and actually considered in all of this, I think there was just an error in communication and planning on all parts. And Dems better be more cautious, because, just maybe, Daly or some other staffer, fucked up. And why should the President care about optics of agreeing to the next night if the optics of his staff fucking up and then appearing to pressure or play politics could have been far worse.

As Obama always proved in his campaign, the little shit gets little attention and then goes away. WE make the little shit big shit and we don't deal with anything for two whole days.

I understand the point of optics. I do. But I also think there's an unnecessary magnifying glass making the optics of an ant appear to be the optics of an elephant.


jhw22 said...

And even though we completely disagree on this, I still love you. :)


Broadway Carl said...

I completely understand your point, Jennifer. But I'll go back to what I originally said. I can't dismiss the fact that it was the White House who chose the date, and then backed off, no matter how it was reached.

All the blips you mention are just part of a larger pattern, and frankly, I'm getting tired of it.

And yes, even though we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, I still love you too. ;)