Thursday, September 01, 2011


Well, the White House has blinked and the speech will be September 8, not September 7. In my last post I told you why I think this was a fight the administration never should have picked -- but I want to add one more point.

If Team Obama wants to be pugnacious, it should be pugnacious on the American people's side. Apart from the moral reason for that, it's good politics -- Americans want their elected officials, especially the president, to fight for them, but they're not pleased -- certainly not now -- when pols fight one another for political advantage. Can anyone show me how the public was going to benefit from the original speech date rather than the new one (football fans excepted)?

Oh, sure -- Republicans often seem to benefit from fighting for political advantage. But that's because they have a constituency that sees every fight they engage in as a battle in the culture war -- when Republicans win, it's a surrogate win for "real Americans" and a loss for liberals and "elitists" and the "liberal media" and academics in "ivory towers" and so on.

Apart from African-Americans, Obama doesn't seem to be the political representative of a large segment of the population -- he may have once, but he doesn't now. Most of the public isn't rooting for an Obama victory just for its own sake, the way, say, right-wingers and Southerners and pro-military types rooted for Bush in his first term. So even if Obama had smacked down Boehner, most of the public wouldn't have felt it as a vicarious win for themselves.

He really needs to concentrate on doing stuff that, y'know, helps people. And on that ground he should fight as hard as he can.