The Republican debate was scheduled first. (And it's an important one, at the Reagan Library, with Rick Perry's first appearance in a debate.) Obama swiftly relocating his personal speech bubble into the media space bubble currently occupied by his GOP challengers. But following the Emily Mills rule of political bocce ball, the GOP media bubble must honor the Obama bubble and bounce out of the way (because the second-arriving bubble has the power to oust the first bubble, especially when the incoming bubble come in from the left).
But the President can't just barge into Congress whenever he wants. (Ever heard of the notion of separate co-equal branches of government?) He's got to ask, and he's got to ask John Boehner, and Boehner says no. But not because of the debate. Oh, no no no. Because the House isn't reconvening until the following day and because it's a lot of work setting up the security for a presidential visit.
I just have 2 more questions:
1. If all the other networks aired the Obama speech, do you think fewer people would watch the debate (assuming MSNBC and CNBC would stick to their plan and show the debate) or do you think more people would watch? That is, if Obama preempted the regular shows people like, they might flip over to the debate. How many of the people who want to watch the debate would pick an Obama speech instead?
2. Should Obama be criticized just for doing a Joint Session of Congress, quite aside from the debate? This proposal isn't going to amount to anything, is it? It's political grandstanding. There's something dreadful about locking all the members of Congress in place where they're supposed to sit silently — God forbid anyone yells "you lie!" or whatever — or cheer and laud the President. Frankly, I don't think it's presidential, because — in America — we have 3 branches of government, and the President's forays into the Capitol should be rare, dignified rituals of a nonpartisan nature.