Updated: Now that Obama will speak before both chambers of Congress at the same date and time as the next GOP presidential debate (Wed., Sept. 7 at 8pm ET), Republicans must decide whether to take the ratings hit and go on with the debate as planned – or shuffle out of the President’s way and reschedule the side-show circus known as the Republican Debate/Tea Party Tirade.
Not only that, but if the Republican debate does not get rescheduled, the debate participants who are current members of Congress (like Michele Bachmann) will have to choose between complying with the President’s directive to attend the joint session or let their true anti-government colors shine and go ahead with the debate appearance as planned.
When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked by the press about the scheduling conflict he replied:
There will be more than 20 debates, but “there’s one president.” He said television viewers could decide what they want to watch, “whether it’s the — you know, the Wild Life Channel or the Cooking Channel.”
Asked if he was comparing Republicans to wildlife, he replied, laughing, “Maybe the Wild Life Channel.”
The letter Obama sent to congressional leaders to announce the Joint Session reads as follows:
“Our Nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs. As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs. We must answer this call.
“Therefore, I respectfully request the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on September 7, 2011, at 8:00 p.m. 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. It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that. Thank you for your consideration.”
I, for one, will be listening to the President come Sept. 7. May even write a post about it. Stay tuned.
Update: Obama withdraws gauntlet, changes speech date to Sept. 8 to avoid more partisan bickering. Undoubtedly he will be harangued for this faux-pas from all sides. Let’s keep in mind that Obama started with the Sept. 7 date because that’s the first day Congress returns to session. He gave it up because he’s “just not into the theatrics.“
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that this debate was scheduled to air on Fox News. It is scheduled to air on MSNBC.)