What Was Obama Thinking?

September 1, 2011 6:35 a.m.

Some reader reactions to yesterday’s brouhaha over when Obama would be allowed to address a joint session of Congress about the jobs crisis:

Late Update: I’ve added a few more at the bottom:TPM Reader AL:

Can someone explain why the president picked this fight? At first I thought maybe it was some sort of bold stroke to build up anticipation for the speech and pit him squarely against the Republicans–job creation vs. politics. But the fact that he caved so quickly makes it seem like there was no strategy here. What am I missing?

TPM Reader DS:

I sure hope Obama’s signature accommodation style, reflected in being told by Boehner when he can give his speech, is not indicative of how bold he intends to be. (Obviously, I think this was a big mistake, unfortunately in a long string of them. Wrong optics all around).

This president simply has to change course in a major way and start challenging these people, or the chance not so much of re-election (which may be not too bad given the extremism of the other side), but of electing a majority Democratic Congress, may slip away entirely. It’s late, and it’s time to get moving.

TPM Reader WN:

Here we go again: post-mortems before anything has actually happened.

The fact that he agreed to Boehner’s postponement almost immediately, before the news cycle had even swallowed the original “stepping on the debate” meme, should tell you something. The audience for a cable tv Republican debate, on MSNBC no less, was always going to be miniscule. This turn of events puts it a bit more in the spotlight, with a little extra pressure on Perry and Romney, as a wounded Bachmann hovers beside them, pressuring them into agreeing with her Tea Party flavored lunacy. Having to bitch about Obama without knowing the content of his speech, while savaging each other as they jockey for position, is going to be quite entertaining.

If, as I suspect, the speech precedes the NFL game, Obama will likely have a larger audience than he might otherwise have had. He’s putting added pressure on himself by taking this route, indicating, I think, that he views this as a very big effing deal. Of course that won’t stop the blogosphere from pronouncing the whole thing an epic fail before it even happens.

TPM Reader CD:

Obama “acceding” to Boehner pretty much sums up why I’ve lost all faith in Obama and enthusiasm for his presidency. I would welcome a primary challenge at this point. I just don’t think Obama has any desire to lose a fight standing up when he can lose a fight sitting down. He’s generated buckets of disappointment for me.

TPM Reader KW:

I heartily disagree with the notion that Obama ‘caved’ because he moved it ONE DAY. That’s one day. Must everything with wonks be a battle? Shouldn’t he continue to be the adult in the room and simply focus on the end result, not on whether his johnson is bigger? If he doubled down and fought them on this, he’d look like the child they are. Let’s focus on the jobs speech, folks, and shut up about the rest. It’s silly.

TPM Reader ED:

I am thoroughly disgusted once again with the President Obama’s almost desperate need to accomodate Republicans. Why move the speech so quickly? Why not let things play out a little? DeMint stated he wasn’t going to accomodate the President either. Let them look petty for a few days, and let the fact that this denial of the President is unprecendented sink in.

He never gives things a chance to play out. He plays chicken but swerves a mile before he has to. I really believed in this President but three years later I have NO faith in him. I’m in Rhode Island, so my vote doesn’t matter, but for what it’s worth, I might even vote Socialist or something. At least I would be voting for someone who has a definite set of beliefs.

TPM Reader NH:

Though I’m not sure how well executed, I reasoned this might be an attempt to posture as the “Only Adult in the Room.” This entire GOP primary has been a circus composed completely of sideshows; from any serious standpoint it has been trivial compared to the serious problems facing the country. In one quick move he’s dismissed the entire thing as lunacy, and demonstrated his willingness to let the children pretend to be presidential. Once again, I’m not entirely sure this was executed well.

TPM reader BH:

At this point in an Obama presidency, I am weary of trying to figure out how yet another move on his part seems to be so politically naïve. I no longer have confidence that he and his team are doing these kind of bone-headed moves as part of some hidden brilliant strategy that the rest of us can’t see but will ultimately pay off, win the day and make him the adult-statesman in the room. I still trust that Obama’s vision for America is inherently a better one than the mean spirited and destructive fantasy Republicans seem so keen to advance at every step. But Obama continues to reinforce my worries that he just DOESN’T GET IT when it comes to the backroom forceful fist that is needed to twist arms, make the deals and set the agenda. I am so disheartened.

What did you think?

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