The White House claims the timing of an announced presidential address to a joint session of Congress — scheduled during a Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. — was a coincidence. Truthful or not, the White House learned this evening that Speaker of the House John Boehner rejected the president’s request, setting up what is certain to be partisan sniping from both sides of the aisle.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, however, says Boehner made a mistake when he blocked the president’s request. On Wednesday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel, Krauthammer said he was skeptical of the White House’s claim that the timing was a coincidence. But he also said Boehner and his party could have used the debate to attack Obama on a grander scale.
“[W]hen Jay Carney says ‘I can honestly say that this was a coincidence, that the original scheduling would land on the Republican debate,’ you have to ask yourself: How much are they paying him?” Krauthammer said.
“Look,” he continued, ”I think that the Boehner letter was probably ill-advised because if he had just accepted it, the president would just look small for stepping on the debate. Secondly, I think the Republicans could have easily just moved the debate to 9:00, and then had eight people on the stage to gang up on Obama, essentially the biggest response to a presidential speech ever done.”
Krauthammer also addressed the political motivations behind the scheduling conflict: “Everyone knows it’s about Obama gaining a political advantage on the jobs issue, which is his weakest. And everyone knows it was scheduled so that it would trump and overshadow the Republican debate. To claim that the theme is to transcend politics is unbelievable example of chutzpah on part of the president.”