Business as Usual in the District…Unfortunately.

You’re probably familiar with the story by now.  President Barack Obama wants to address Congress and give a big speech about jobs.  He picked Wednesday night, September 7.  House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said that Thursday would work better.  The President relented.

Now. let the games begin.  Or should that be, let the blames begin?

For months there was a Republican presidential debate scheduled for the evening of September 7.   The President never should have tried to overshadow that event, especially if he is going to chide Republicans for being uncooperative and partisan.  However, this was not the argument Boehner made when rejecting the President’s request to come and address Congress.  Boehner said that the problem was that September 7 would be the first day that the House of Representatives was in session after their recess.  There were votes that needed to take place.  Also, there would be a problem with getting security sweeps done in time.  This bothers me.  If the President of the United States wants to visit your House, you need to get your housekeeping taken care of.  Even if the President is a member of the other party, one has to respect the office.

It was unprecedented for the Speaker of the House to not accommodate a President’s announced choice for an appearance before Congress.  But it was also unprecedented for the White House to announce the time of the speech without clearing it with the Speaker first.

It’s unfortunate that with so many substantive disagreements in front of them, embarrassed finger pointing would be caused by something so avoidable.

A problem for the President is that plenty of Republicans will think he is petty for trying to overshadow their debate, and plenty of Democrats will think he is weak for so quickly agreeing to switch nights.  Another problem for the President is that on Thursday night he’ll be competing with the opening game of the NFL season.

It’s kind of a mess–a totally avoidable mess.