“Flailure” … Poorly Played Political Gamesmanship

“Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose” – Robin Williams

There was some poorly played gamesmanship in the political arena this week. The president picked a fight, so to speak, by scheduling a “jobs” speech opposite a Republican presidential debate. He knew full well the debate was on the calendar and tried to get it pushed aside for his keynote speech on jobs.

I think it was a dumb fight to pick, but if you’re going to pick a fight, you’d better stick with it. Don’t pick the fight and then back down the next day. Worse yet, don’t pick the fight, send your press secretary out there to say that they Republicans should move the debate, and then move your speech the next day. It just makes you look weak.

Beyond weak, now incompetent. Having moved the speech from Wednesday to Thursday, somebody pointed out that the speech would be opposite the NFL season opener. I suspect many Americans are far more interested in a preseason game. Do you preempt the game and piss off voters, or do you move the speech again? Looks like they’ve moved the speech to 7:00 – prior to the game.

This is just bad. Did nobody even check to see if there was some other conflict at that time? Maybe they didn’t know about the Republican debate.

Worse still, by going second, the president (who presumably has been focused on jobs this whole time) gives the Republican candidates a chance to frame the debate the day prior. It won’t take too much work to figure out what his talking points will be and diffuse them ahead of time. They can take away his presumed talking points before he even takes to the teleprompter. Sure, by going second he can change his speech, but you don’t really want your opponents to force changes on you.

It’s useful to consider that perhaps the president’s political team actually has a counter punch coiled and ready here. That he intentionally picked the fight, so he could get pushed back, and unleash the counter. (Typically Democrats outplay Republicans at this game, so it wouldn’t be surprising.) For now though, it looks like “flailure.”

In more political news, polling data shows that Rick Perry is out ahead of Mitt Romney, but is having trouble with a letter he once apparently wrote in support of Hillarycare back in ’93. I haven’t read the letter or seen the defense, I’m just pulling down the headlines.

At a base level I think this probably is the end of Romney. He doesn’t have a “come-from-behind” offense. He needed to get ahead big and stay ahead if he had any chance to win. (I’m not a Romney supporter, so this doesn’t bother me.)

I’m not saying that I think Perry is going to roll here. It’s very possible the Republican nominee isn’t even in the race yet. Yes, I’m still holding out hope for a Ron Paul surge, but Chris Christie or even Sarah Palin may get into this thing and change the dynamic. (I once thought Palin was just going to walk away – but who knows now. Yes, she could get in and yes she could win the nomination.)

OK, enough of politics. Tomorrow something more uplifting …

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