Thursday, September 01, 2011

Cave in yesterday. Cave in today.

The critics who argue that President Obama is too quick to give in to the interests of others have a new round of ammunition. Two days worth, in fact.

You'll recall that yesterday the president made public his request to deliver his jobs-plan address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7 but was rebuffed by House Speaker John Boehner. That set in motion a national discussion about whether the president or the speaker had violated protocol. In the end, the president backed down and chose to move his speech to the next night. (It was my opinion yesterday and remains my opinion today that the president played petty politics in instigating a public spat with the Speaker of the House; however, in backing down so quickly he gave an impression that he once again lacked strength.)

Left unanswered was when the president's speech would begin. He had asked for 8:00 p.m., and so it was (perhaps) assumed by many people inside and outside Washington that he would get that time. It would mean the address would begin just 30 minutes before the NFL's season-opening game between New Orleans and Green Bay, but certainly the president takes precedence over a sporting event.

Apparently he does not.

Mr. Boehner extended the invitation to the president late this afternoon and it included a 7:00 p.m. start time. That means an hour before the prime-time television schedule, thus relegating (at least symbolically) the president to an unimportant time.

Politico reports that the White House is angry over the initial rebuff from Speaker Boehner. However, within the same news cycle it gave up the night and the hour it wanted. That leaves a strong impression that it gave up.

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