President Obama has officially rescheduled his much-anticipated speech on jobs. Originally planned for Sept. 7, conflicting with a debate among GOP presidential hopefuls set for the same date and time, Obama moved his address to Congress back one day after House Speaker John Boehner (R) objected. This logistical mini-scandal dominated the news Wednesday in an afternoon short on political controversy.
There are three bottom lines from this episode, if even that many:
1. Political junkies will have to ask: Who in the White House thought this was a good idea? If there is anything from this debaclet that will last longer than it takes you to read this blog post, it’s the sense that the White House political team might have some weak links. Begin the parlor games about who is to blame, until, at least, there’s a real story to report.
2. Almost no one outside the Beltway will care about who is to blame, or even remember this after a week or two. The GOP candidates at their debate will probably make some corny jokes at the president’s expense. Television hosts before Obama’s speech next Thursday will note that there was some question about when the president would speak. After that, pundits will occasionally bring the scheduling controversy up as evidence of some particular pathology within the White House. Highly-motivated Obama critics will try to keep it in the public’s mind even longer, but they will seem shallow, because it doesn’t really matter.
3. Historians of Congress will forever have to note that at least once, in 2011, a speaker of the House rejected a presidential request to address a joint session of Congress. Maybe this will seem unusually harsh years from now, or maybe our politics will polarize such that petty disputes become ever more routine. Either way, in a few years there will be only a handful of people who will have to care about this, and that’s because they will be paid to keep track of such arcana.
All of these should make you wonder: Do any of us really have to care about this story now?