PASS THE POPCORN – AT 8:30 A.M. ET: It feels like an old-time double feature at the local movie house. We got the A-movie last night with the Republican debate. Tonight the B-movie will run, starring Barack Obama in his latest sequel. Can you stand the excitement? Fox News has a preview of coming attractions:
With millions of Americans out of work and out of patience, President Barack Obama is going before a skeptical Congress to pitch an economic plan aimed at creating jobs urgently and forcing Republicans to own the problem with him.
The underlying political strategy: If Obama can't get his ideas passed heading into his re-election year, he at least hopes to show why he shouldn't take the fall.
That is reminiscent of Harry Truman running against the "do-nothing Congress" in 1948. Problem is, Obama is no Truman.
In his speech Thursday, Obama is likely to offer at least a $300 billion package of ideas that would affect people in their daily lives -- tax relief, unemployment insurance, spending to support construction jobs, aid to states to keep people in their jobs. Businesses would get their own tax breaks. And he will promise a long-term plan to pay for it all.
Yet all of it ultimately will depend on a Republican-controlled House that has a different economic approach and no political incentive to help a Democrat seeking a second term.
So, however cooperative his tone, Obama's goal is also to put Republicans on the spot to act -- in their face, and in their chamber.
That is why Obama chose his most prominent venue, a joint session of Congress, a setting better known for his yearly State of the Union address. While the choice helps give him command of the stage, it also lifted expectations for a breakthrough moment, when the reality is that any sustained job growth will take many months, if not years...
...Before Obama even said a word, political and economic reality raised two questions: Will any of his ideas get approved, and will they actually work?
When asked about some of the ideas Obama is expected to discuss, majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents were all skeptical that the proposals would do a lot to create jobs, a Pew Research Center poll out Wednesday found. A series of new polls by major news organizations finds that the mood of the country is downright dismal about the direction of the country, with Obama's standing and approval on the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency.
COMMENT: Harry Truman was described as a man who "did the biggest things in the biggest ways and the littlest things in the littlest ways. Obama does the biggest things in the littlest ways, incapable of graciousness and always trying to get in his partisan digs. Orginally, remember, this speech was intentionally scheduled for the same time as the Republican debate last night, in a petty attempt to steal the GOP thunder. The president backed down and moved the speech, under pressure from House Speaker John Boehner.
I'm not expecting much, but I'm obligated to watch. I feel like a critic forced to go to a bad movie.
September 8, 2011