Archive for August 31st, 2011

Monty Python and the Jobs Speech

This from the guy who claimed that he was a better political director than his political director.

For those of you who have better things to do than watch the national media try to keep their presidential Google Calendars updated, the President of the United States just suffered the worst stuffing since Joe Theismann threw Rocket Screen into the hands of Jack Squirek.

Trying to bigfoot upstage the Republican presidential debate scheduled for next Wednesday at 8:00 Eastern Political War Time, Obama tried to schedule what he’s billing as a major policy address on jobs to a joint session of Congress.  Only someone apparently declined to remind him of local protocol.  The President doesn’t get to summon Congress to hear him address them from on high.  He asks permission to speak, and has to be formally invited.  He may have tried to forget the results of the 2010 elections, but Speaker John Boehner hasn’t and the Speaker declined to sign off on the deal.

The President had a couple of options.  He could request a time before the debate, and let the Republican candidates jointly deliver the rebuttal.  Or he could pick a time after the debate, and risk having the TV cameras catch Dingell, or Conyers, or Akaka, or Inouye, or Lautenberg get an early start on their beauty sleep.

But the Speaker – and the networks covering the debate – wouldn’t budge.  Instead, he chose to accept the Speaker’s invitation for Thursday night.

Opposite the season opener of the NFL.

Telestrator vs. Teleprompter in a battle for the hearts, minds, and remote controls of America.  Good luck with that, Mr. President.

The game is New Orleans vs. Green Bay.  How appropriate that the man with the permanently sub-zero approval index will be going up against the Frozen Tundra.  Seriously, doesn’t he ever get tired of losing to Wisconsin?

It’s like the bridge scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“What is your name?”
“Barack Obama.”
“What is your quest?”
“To get re-elected.”
“What is the date of your speech?”
“September seve – no!  Eighth!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

We’ve all been having a good time placing bets on when Obama will be attacked by some small, usually harmless water mammal, but this really is the sort of thing you could imagine coming out of the Carter White House.  And it’s completely self-inflicted.  If he gets the reservation for the 7th, he reminds everyone of the petty, thin-skinned, machine politician whose tactics don’t work so well at the national level.  If he changes the date, he either looks weak or uninformed, and unlike blowing right through “God Save the Queen,” there’s no State Department protocol office to blame for this one.

Boehner could have been gracious, but why?  Obama hasn’t exactly done anything to earn it.  He invited the Republicans to a Health Care Summit, and then shot lasers out of his eyes when Paul Ryan had the temerity to question his arithmetic, which was worse than Standard & Poors’s.  He used the State of the Union address to demagogue the Supreme Court, with the result that a number of justices have just stopped coming to that annual ritual.  He invited the aforementioned Paul Ryan to a budget policy address, only to publicly embarrass him and propose nothing of his own.  And then, after Cantor and Biden, and then Boehner and Reid thought they had debt ceiling agreements, he submarined each of them, leaving them to wonder why he was wasting their time.

A small man occupying a large office runs the risk of having it shrink wrap him at his desk, and that’s pretty much what’s happening to Obama.

You get the feeling that this is a president who wants to be Lyndon Johnson, but ends up looking like James Buchanan.  He’s politicized virtually every aspect of governance, and sicced the NLRB, the Justice Department, and the EPA on his political enemies.  But at the same time as he completely gets the vast administrative power of the Presidency, he equally completely doesn’t get its symbolic power.   Which is why since John Boehner took the gavel back from the hands of America’s children, he’s gotten the better of Obama at every turn.

Odds are the speech itself – if anyone’s listening – will just confirm it.  He’ll have nothing new to offer but more of your – or rather your grandchildren’s – money, and he almost certainly will allude to his preferred speaking slot.  He’ll leave a couple of blank spaces until Wednesday night for the speechwriters to throw in some lines challenging the Republican themes of the night before, and the press will praise his courage.   Even if he does claim to drop a couple of substantial regulations, the departments won’t actually change policy (see offshore drilling), or the regulations will show up in some other context.

So the President, with Democrats having loudly proclaimed that this was the summer to prepare the battlefield for next year’s election, finds himself out of ideas,  at the mercy of events, with people having tuned him out, ready to fire him, focused on interviewing his replacement.

Are you ready for some football?

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Wednesday Morning Spy

Iran sees some strategic value in helping the Libyan rebels.  Well, since we were mostly just interested in preventing a refugee flood into Europe, they probably have more staying power, too.

State pensions.  You thought it was bad?  It’s worse.

Maybe we could just cherry-pick BC, Alberta, and the plains provinces.

Sorry, Airports Council.  Airport slots are a commodity.  These were the same guys who were arguing for more freedom to raise passenger charges to secure revenue bonds.  But the airports involved are almost all government-run, so it’s more about autonomy than the market for them.

Well, that’s ok.  Soon the pilots won’t know which direction the gates are, anyway.

That’s right, from a government that can’t program its own labor rules into an iPhone app when they’re sober.  (You assume facts not in evidence, sir.)

Republicans float a proposal to actually, you know, use our leverage to force the UN to reform.  And this is just the low-hanging fruit.

Remember when we all mourned the loss of Bell Labs?  Microsoft has the room, the time, the talent, and the money to fund applied research, too.

How the EU might be able to get around its treaty limitations, and issue Eurobonds. And here’s why they might want to:

Meanwhile, in an interview with FAZ, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé warned, “The dissolution of the eurozone is not acceptable, because it would also be the dissolution of Europe. If that happens, then everything is possible. Young people seem to believe that peace is guaranteed for all time…But if we look around in Europe there is new populism and nationalism. We cannot play with that.”

Eurobonds by Eurocrats.  Sound about right.  Maybe if the all-vanilla center-left-center-right-center parties hadn’t outlawed debate on anything substantive, they might find more support.  There’s basically no address where the average European can go to complain about things, or to effect change.

Joseph Epstein on the race-, class-, and gender-obsessed gated communities that English departments have become:

Yet, through the magic of dull and faulty prose, the contributors to “The Cambridge History of the American Novel” have been able to make these presumably worldly subjects seem parochial in the extreme—of concern only to one another, which is certainly one derogatory definition of the academic. These scholars may teach English, but they do not always write it, at least not quite.

One-third of the US corn crop could be vulnerable to bugs that have adapted around Monsanto’s GM line.  Well, with any luck, it’ll be the third we were sending to ethanol.

States ask for Medicaid relief.  They should know.  They can’t even estimate the costs of their own policy changes.

Better plans for better boarding time, through math.

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