Monday :: Jul 7, 2014

It's Time for the "Gimmick Speech"


by Deacon Blues

A floundering presidency can always benefit from the mistakes of its opponents. John Boehner has crafted a nifty trick, whereby he allows his House GOP caucus to abdicate its responsibility and do nothing, only to then threaten the Executive with litigation for trying to do something without them. With the White House seemingly caught in a bind no matter which way it turns, I suggest it’s time for what I call The Gimmick Speech, a maneuver that will look political and yet will still draw blood from an overconfident opponent.

You’ll recall that back in 2002, Andrew Card and Karl Rove amped up the drive for the Iraq war during the summer congressional recess, during the media coverage vacuum inside the Beltway when Congress was out of town and the Executive had the airwaves all to itself. John Boehner has already told the world that his caucus plans to do nothing the rest of this session before the midterms, and he thinks he’s cleverly locked the president out of any further executive action through his litigation threat. But what would happen if Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office this week to invite House and Senate Republicans over to the White House to show him what they’d support and get through both houses on the issues of the day, like immigration reform, a highway/infrastructure bill, and the veteran’s healthcare reform bill?

In essence, Obama should throw the attention back onto Boehner and McConnell and make them blow off the offer, or make them come to the table this month before the recess. I’m betting that neither Boehner nor McConnell have any interest in coming over to the White House and presenting solutions because they have no intention of doing anything except blaming the White House for their own dereliction of duty. That doesn’t mean Obama should let them slink away this session and get away with it.

The speech itself can be very simple:

“My fellow Americans, House Republicans have controlled the House since January 2011, nearly three and a half years. Yet while many problems facing the country have gone unaddressed by Congress during that time, I have been accused by the Republican leadership of both houses with acting by myself illegally and without congressional approval. While I could spend the next several weeks debating the merits of such allegations, it would still result in Congress doing nothing during this term.
Instead, I am announcing tonight that I will open up my calendar over the next ten days for the Republican leadership of both houses to come over and present me with real solutions to our actual problems, solutions that can pass both houses of Congress in this session before Congress goes on recess at the end of July. I’m hopeful that Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell will take advantage of this opportunity to bring over legislative solutions that can directly add thousands of jobs, address bipartisan desires for immigration reform, reform our veteran’s healthcare system, and fund our infrastructure and highway needs. There’s no reason why several weeks of intensive bipartisan work between the Executive and legislative branches can’t result in actual solutions that House and Senate Republicans would be proud to take to the voters this November.
To that end, I will open up my calendar and inform my staff to be ready to work with congressional Republicans on any solutions that are brought over that can pass Congress and address these real problems.
Thank you, and God bless America.”

Either way, Obama and the Democrats are covered. If the GOP does what they’re expected to do and call it nothing more than a stunt, then Obama gets to blow their brains out during the August recess and set the narrative of a "do nothing GOP congress" for the remainder of this cycle. If Boehner and McConnell do come across with something that is workable, Democrats get credit for doing something while the two GOP leaders deal with the intraparty implosion in each of their caucuses that will result from governing instead of posturing.

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