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Editorial: Obama stumbles into trouble with the GOP

Updated: November 5, 2011 12:57PM

America needs a jobs plan, but President Obama might need a new social secretary.

When making a formal visit to somebody else’s house, it’s always best to agree upon the day and time well in advance, leaving no room for confusion, and bring a pie or a bottle of wine.

But Obama apparently failed to do so in arranging his visit to Capitol Hill next week to present his jobs plan before a joint session of Congress. Rather than nail down the date behind the scenes with House Speaker John A. Boehner, the White House on Wednesday sent Boehner a letter — released to the press almost simultaneously — asking to address Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The speaker, pressured by his party and conservative radio talkers, declined the request, saying Congress would be busy. He invited the president to drop by the next day, Sept. 8.

Democrats howled. Never in the history of the Republic, they said, had Congress turned down a president’s request to deliver an address on a particular day.

But Obama had shot himself in the foot this time. The White House knew perfectly well that an important televised Republican presidential debate — the first featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry — was scheduled for the same evening. And the White House knew that the president’s speech would threaten to upstage the debate.

Add to that the GOP’s unrelenting hostility to all things Obama, and the president should have anticipated the blowback.

Worse yet for the president, he limps out of this looking weak. He had no choice late Wednesday but to accede to Boehner’s invitation to address Congress on Sept. 8.

Ironically, as Democratic Party operative James Carville joked on Thursday, Boehner may have done Obama a favor, saving the president’s speech from being upstaged by a potential “barn burner” of a debate.

“Given a choice between watching a debate and the speech I would have watched the debate, and I’m not even a Republican,” he told ABC News.

Next time, Mr. President, call ahead and bring a pie.

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