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Obama Outsmarts Himself On JOBS SPEECH –

September 1, 2011

Obama Outsmarts Himself on Speech

By Chris Stirewalt

Published September 01, 2011 |

Team Obama Trips on its Shoelaces Before Fall Campaign Kickoff

“It’s been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on. I know that you’re frustrated by that. I am, too.”

— President Obama in an email to political supporters asking them to watch his speech on the economy next week

Maybe House Speaker John Boehner did President Obama a favor by rebuffing his request to give an economic speech to a joint session of Congress at the same time as a long-scheduled Republican presidential debate.

The most notable prior occasion when Obama sought to step on a Republican rival’s moment in such a fashion was on May 21, 2009, when the president opted to preempt a speech by former Vice President Dick Cheney on terrorist detainee policy. Obama gave his talk, Cheney gave his and then a Democratically controlled Congress sided with the guy they call Darth Vader and refused to allow Obama to import the inmates on the Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp.

Obama had put his presidential prestige on the line – quite considerable in those early days of his administration – against the most reviled member of the hugely unpopular previous administration and got shown up. The same thing might have happened if Obama had gotten his way and pushed back by an hour the NBC/Politico debate set for next week. Republican frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, both running on jobs platforms, might have had much of the following two hours to offer searing rejoinders to a speech that will necessarily be a policy patchwork.

But it could at least be said of the face-off with Cheney that Obama was engaged in the spoken version of a point-counterpoint editorial. He just used his presidential prerogative to claim the top of the page. The bid to preempt the Republican debate, though, was just about politics.

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