Baracking the Oxygen Out of the Room—Updated

As with the Magical Misery Tour in the Darth Vader Battlebus shadowing Republican presidential candidates around the Midwest, once again, the president is attempting to co-opt his Republican opposition. Or as Ace writes, “Hey, Little Favor. Can I Deliver a Droning Speech to a Joint Session of Congress At the Exact Same Time As the Much-Anticipated Republican Debate?”


Boehner should just say no, or propose that it comes earlier.

That would be the smartest play — for Boehner say “There must be no delay, let’s do this sooner, not later.” I think.

The other possibility is just to say no. Or to counter-propose a public debate, or information exchanging session, as happened a while back, when Paul Ryan sort of embarrassed the hapless Obama.

Ed says to let him have the event on this night:

Besides, this actually plays well for Republicans. Usually, the opposition party gets a few minutes for a rebuttal speech, shot in an anteroom with none of the drama and flair of a joint session speech. Instead, the GOP will have eight or nine responses to Obama on live television in a dramatic setting. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Republicans at the debate decide individually to focus their criticisms on Obama all night long and his plan, especially if — as I suspect — the plan will amount to a junior-grade Porkulus.

I disagree with that. Obama’s speech will, as usual, consist of pleasing soundbites, most of which are entirely meaningless (and hence hard to object to) without actual numbers behind them.

It puts the Republicans on a very bad footing to have to respond to Obama’s speech within minutes of its ending.

Furthermore — for God’s sakes, the candidates are supposed to be talking about themselves and their vision — not just letting Obama be Alpha Dog and determine the subject matter and parameters of their own debate.

Mitt Romney played Alpha Dog in the last debate.

This proposal means the Alpha Dog is determined in advance — and it’s Obama, apparently the 12th Republican candidate for President, and then one who gets to talk for an entire hour without getting a single question from the others.


“Obama looks petty for bigfooting the debate in the first place,” Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler:

Obama’s people probably think they’re being clever here. The images that will result from his speech and the debate will visually elevate him above all of the GOP’s candidates. But he also looks petty for bigfooting the debate in the first place. Rick Perry managed to dominate the Ames straw poll with his campaign announcement in South Carolina, but that was a one-off and a political masterstroke in which he earned media coverage opposite an event in which he didn’t campaign. Obama has “pivoted to jobs” 7 or 8 times already, and a year ago yesterday he even promised a big new initiative on jobs. If Obama presents zero new ideas in his joint session speech, and so far all the evidence says that that’s what he is going to do, he’s likely to accomplish two things: Irritate an even greater slice of the country while also stirring up more grumbling from Congress for having to attend his nothingburger of a speech.

And what happens if the GOP debate gets better ratings than his speech? That could happen, and would be a serious embarrassment to the president.

This was a bad move, borne of fear on Obama’s part. Having promised a jobs plan after his return from vacation, he fears delivering it before the GOP debate. That would allow them to use the debate time to shred it in unison. Going soon after the debate runs the risk of his plan looking flimsy and unserious after Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who now leads in the polls and has a real jobs record to stand on, makes his first debate appearance on Sept. 7.


If the long-term strategy of the president is suck the oxygen out of the room at each major GOP event, in order to keep himself in the spotlight on the way to edging over the finish line next year with 50.1 percent of the vote a la Harry Truman, hey, it could ultimately work, particularly since Obama will be ramping up plenty of Alinsky-style demonization of his opponent. (Again, see also late-stage Truman.) But right now, it’s hard to see this as anything other than reeking of desperation from a failed president.

Still though, in response, maybe the GOP could relocate their debate to this location.

Related: Kathryn Jean Lopez calls it a case of “Joint-Session Shamelessness:”

As Andy suggests, even if it were not scheduled on a GOP debate night: He is going to essentially launch his reelection campaign before a joint session of Congress?

Well, given how it is being positioned, congressional Republicans would be wise to put their clearest communicator out there to respond to the president. Watch Senator Rubio at the Reagan Library if you have not already — he seems the obvious choice.

Finally, a first draft of the president’s jobs speech has just been leaked by

Update: Boehner calls Barry’s bluff. (More here.)


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