But since he has now released a letter regarding the speech I can comment on that letter, and I have to say that I am hugely unimpressed. So much for being “the adult in the room.” Yes, we have been wanting him to challenge the Republicans, but we meant for him to do so on policy issues, not with this childish “Haha I’m going to mess with your debate” nonsense.
Yes, I know there are White House claims of “adequate notice,” and that Democrats say it is the President who is being disrespected, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. The inescapable fact is that the White House released the letter before agreement had been reached with Congress on a date and time. That is a breach of protocol and it injected petty politics into what should have been a moment of governance and leadership, and this round of childishness is more caused by the White House than by the opposition.
There is considerable excitement that choosing to make the speech before a joint session of Congress means that Obama is going to introduce something really big and dramatic in the plan. Steve Benen even suggests that, “As settings go, this is in the swing-for-the-fences category,” but I have seen Obama at the plate many times and have never seen him as more than a percentage hitter.
Consider how he himself describes his intentions for the address to Congress, with emphasis added by me which might indicate why I think there will be nothing new, and certainly nothing big or radical,
"It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order."
With that description, the same "cut spending and raise investment simultaneously" that we've heard many times before, from the pen of the man planning to make the speech, I think Steve Benen’s hopes of some sort of home run is little more than a pipe dream.
There's also the issue that, coming a day later than originally announced due to a rebuff from Republicans, the impact of the speech is going to be reduced. This is at best poor management by the White House, and at worst the result of a childish power play that backfired.