OTHER VOICES

Get serious

Posted Sept. 13, 2011, at 6:04 p.m.

Sometimes political issues can’t be resolved by compromise, and the side with a majority awarded by voters will implement a vision that negates the opposition’s views.

Nevertheless, such hard-nosed tactics are best reserved for matters of great national importance: whether to invade another nation, for example, or to spend tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on a stimulus program or a health care plan.

Scheduling a presidential speech just doesn’t rise to that level of importance, no matter what people think of the personalities or the issues involved. So when President Barack Obama decided to give what he billed as a major national address to a joint session of Congress on job creation at the same time as a nationally televised debate among his potential Republican opponents in next year’s election, that conflict could — and should — have been avoided.

Instead, it was escalated when House Speaker John Boehner told the White House, sorry, no, we’re too busy then, try again the next night — when football fans were anticipating the season’s first NFL games.

The president gave way, and gave his speech before kickoff. That diminishes his office, and both he and his opponents share the blame.

Americans don’t mind political conflict, but they want it to involve serious matters, not silly ones.

Portland (Maine) Press Herald (Sept. 7)

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