Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Usual Leadership

President Obama's speech on job creation will not conflict with the GOP presidential debate to be held on Wednesday, September 7. After Speaker of the House John Boehner complained about the President addressing a joint session of Congress at the same time as the debate, Obama moved his speech to the following night, Thursday.

September 8 is opening night for the National Football League. The President was loathe to place football fans, some of them voters, in the position of having to decide whether to watch a presidential address or a football game , or instead figured most would opt for the latter. Presidential press spokesman Jay Carney pledged "I can assure all you football fans that he will be completed before kick-off."

Good sense of priorities that, because sports are far more important than a 9.1% unemployment rate. Sarcasm aside, though, the Packers and the Saints face-off may be as important as the plan likely to be announced by the White House. Obama, determined to give the GOP the ball at the 50-yard line, Monday admitted stated "These are bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be." Republicans are in no mood to cooperate (a mood going on its 32nd consecutive month) even with a President who, before the plan even has been announced, already has begun to compromise. Or maybe because he already has given it up. Politico reports

Some members of Obama’s economic team are pushing for aggressive proposals that reach well beyond what Republicans might support, arguing that the president needs to convey a vision, not a tactical legislative strategy, according to sources familiar with White House deliberations.

But there’s competing pressure for the president to make an offer that Republicans can’t reasonably refuse — by stacking his jobs bill with ideas they have endorsed in the past, the sources said. It would allow Obama to position himself as he did during the debt ceiling negotiations, as a realist anxious for compromise.

It's not as if the White House is proposing real solutions which might reverse the economic slump and result in the creation of reasonably well-paying jobs. "Members of Obama's economic team" are conceding, going in, that the President is more interested in appearing centrist ("a realist") than in effective measures. With the benefit of hindsight, they couldn't possibly believe that Republicans will see a jobs bill "with ideas they have endorsed in the past," accept the victory, and go home. And there is little reason the GOP should, as described by Michael Tomasky:

I hope—alas, against hope—that the White House is keeping a scorecard of this year so far. That scorecard reads Republicans 2, Obama 0 (the threatened government shutdown and the debt deal), covering a period during which the president’s approval ratings have sagged by about 10 points, and this even though he iced Osama bin Laden. What the Republicans are doing is working.

The last Democratic President (or the last time there was a Democratic president) once famously noted "it's better to be strong and wrong, than weak and right." Barack Obama has had the chance to be strong and right; so far, weak and wrong has been his preferred style.

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