President Obama’s Jobs Address: A Preview

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress tonight to unveil his new jobs proposal. But his track record as a bad negotiator will undermine even the most brilliant speech.

Dismayed progressives lament the President’s tendency to offer bold proposals and negotiate them away. Emboldened conservatives know that the President’s initial proposals are merely a starting point and that they’ll be able to move him much farther to the right before agreeing to any deal.

As examples, President Obama:

  • Made the “public option” a centerpiece of his healthcare proposal before negotiating it away.
  • Pledged to end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans until violating his own pledge and extending them.
  • Gave away so much in the debt ceiling fight that House Speaker John Boehner bragged: “We got 98 percent of what we wanted.”

I’m not making a value judgment here on the proposals themselves, but rather on the widely-held (and growing) perception that he will inevitably fold on them.

As a result, the President’s words will have diminished impact tonight. When speakers offer terrific proposals but don’t reinforce their words with actions, it leads to audience fatigue. Many of the President’s supporters are skeptical of another bait and switch, and opponents suspect they’ll eventually get what they want anyway.

That’s not to say the President won’t succeed in passing something close to the economic plan he unveils tonight. But after having the rug pulled from under them numerous times, even his most ardent supporters are likely to take a cautious “wait and see” approach to see whether the President fights for his plan this time around or negotiates it away yet again.

What’s your opinion? Is my critique overly-harsh, or not harsh enough? Feel free to offer an opinion, but remember the blog’s comment policy – no ad hominem attacks or pejorative name-calling will be posted.

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