The totality of the "jobs speech" scheduling screw-up must have sunk in for the White House when a Politico alert went out saying Obama "bowed" to the demands of Speaker Boehner to change the date of his address before a joint session of Congress. For the leading political outlet in the country to use that word–bowed–meant the narrative had been royally botched beyond recognition.
As Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post has said, there are no coincidences in Presidential politics. Ever. The White House was aware of the GOP debate and thought it would be wily and sly to schedule a speech on jobs before a joint session of Congress that would overlap with the debate.
In attempting to schedule a speech on a "jobs" plan that most likely won't pass Congress, making it more political in nature than policy, the White House must have thought the optics would work in their favor. The President would look like a leader, standing head and shoulders above all 535 despised-by-the-public Members of Congress, giving a speech on the topic Americans care most about — jobs.
The GOP primary candidates, on the other hand, would look like petty partisans bickering on stage about issues that are more important to the GOP primary voter than the swing voters in the general that will ultimately pick the next President.
The screw-up is a mark of how diminished Obama's political skills have become in the last couple of years. Any genius could have told his political team that they'd look foolish and hyper-partisan for trying to muscle away media coverage from a pivotal GOP debate — the first one that will include Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The scheduling snafu effectively squashed Obama's "adult in the room" messaging, and by kow-towing to the demands of the Speaker he also looked weak. When running for re-election as Leader of the Free World, weak is never a word you want associated with your campaign.
The projection of strength is one advantage Obama has inherent in being President. As an incumbent President he possesses the bully pulpit of the Presidency. Everywhere Obama goes he is the President, flying in Air Force One, making the big decisions and should be expected to project an air of confidence over petty primary politicians.
But then Obama goes and makes himself look like a school-yard bully trying to shove the new kid out of the four-square box, only to get shoved out himself by a fellow classmate. And an orange one who cries at the drop of a hat, at that.
County Coroner candidates are generally more strategic in their scheduling than Obama was with his "jobs speech."
If he can't control the narrative of scheduling a speech, it may be a long and frustrating road to November 2012.
Hope and change worked for Obama once. It's clear it's not going to cut it this time around.