Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Speech Game

As conflicts go the Jobs Speech vs. GOP Debate Kerfuffle ranks somewhere below the Great Squirrel-Chipmunk War. The question for historians is how did it happen?

The detail decisions about major Presidential speeches is made at the Chief-of-Staff level, so Bill Daley choose Sept. 7 for the speech. Either he knew about the GOP debate or he didn't. If he didn't then Daley and every single member of his staff is an ignorant twit incapable of reading and understanding the Washington Post. It's a safe bet he knew.

So why that date? Party primary debates are ugly, petty affairs at best; presidential addresses to joint sessions of Congress are grand events filled with pomp. Juxtapositioning the two would make President Obama look like a giant while Republicans look like a field of Lilliputs.

Speaker Boehner was in a weak position with few options. He could lead a Republicans boycott of the President's speech, which would have looked absolutely horrible. He could have physically prevented the President from entering the House chambers by, say, chaining the doors shut; that would have looked even worse. He could have threatened to not cooperate in future negotiations but that was no threat because he was going to do that anyhow. He could threaten to drown the week before the speech with insistent whining but he's going to do that anyhow, too.

The result should have been CoS Daley winning a cute little round of political gamesmanship. So, why then did the day end with the White House moving the speech to the following day?

I've pointed out before that President Obama suffers from Allodoxaphobia, a morbid fear of confrontation. The move was an example of that disorder. Obama gains nothing from the move while losing face.

The White House staff set up a skirmish where they held the high ground for a small but easy victory. The President stabbed his staff in the back and retreated from the high ground because he desperately wanted to avoid confrontation.


KatyDid said...

Allodoxaphobia should be the national buzzword right now.

It's like we're seeing some sort of mental disorder evolve right before our eyes.
I call it "lack of testicular fortitude," but I'm less scientific than you are...

Anonymous said...

...but more graphic and able to evoke a clear picture...