In the previous post I wrote about the move today by John Boehner to refuse Obama's request for a joint session speech on September 7, directly opposite the GOP California debate. Boehner very politely suggested that Obama could do his silly little jobs speech a day later. In golf terms, he hit the two foot putt for the birdie while Obama was still flailing away in the sandtrap.
There's an interesting little pissing contest going on right now between the White House and the Speaker. The WH insists they got approval for the date before making the public announcements. Boehner insists that yes, the WH informed them 15 minutes before the announcement that they wanted that date, but his office did not give any kind of formal approval. Apparently, because Boehner did not immediate object, the WH took that as tacit approval. I'm sure they never expected the Speaker to object since to anyone's knowledge that's never happened before.
And just to clarify for any lefties reading this, the president does not control Congress' schedule. He appears at joint sessions only if invited by the Speaker (and that includes the State of the Union speech), and Boehner has every right to refuse a schedule that he doesn't like.
I think there's more to this story, and here's what I think happened. The WH made their wishes known to Boehner's office and Boehner's people probably didn't immediately realize the conflict with the GOP debate. Once the request had been made public, lots of Republicans like me started flooding Boehner's office with tweets, emails and calls requesting him to refuse the request because of the obvious petty political timing. Since no formal invitation had been offered to Obama, Boehner was free to refuse the date and offer an alternative.
The left is going nuts about all this, as you might expect, but Obama was trying to take the heat off himself by stepping on the GOP debate and Boehner called him on it. Duffers should never expect to beat 7-handicappers at their own game.
Obama has the perfect opportunity to give a jobs speech next week. He's going to a Labor Day rally in Detroit where the audience will be packed with adoring union members. That's where he should make the speech. Heck, it's the union people that will get all the money in Obama's proposed plan so it makes perfect sense to do it there. There's no pressing need for a prime-time joint session speech.
In eight years President Bush gave only one non-State of the Union joint session speech, and that was the speech following 9/11. This will be Obama's second non-State of the Union speech in 2 1/2 years. The first was to push Obamacare.
Boehner played this one very well. The president deserved to get slapped down.