What if the president gave a major speech and no one heard it? Not a likely scenario, yet this was the question in play for several days as President Obama requested and was kinda-sorta denied an audience before a joint session of Congress. He wasnt flatly denied, though House Speaker John Boehner strongly suggested that the Republican-controlled House would prefer that he speak the following night, Sept. 8. Logistics, security and various technicalities were cited. As Kevin Smith, Boehners communications director, explained to me: No one in the speakers office - not the speaker, not any staff - signed off on the date the White House announced abruptly. Its unfortunate the White House ignored standard protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement. We want to find common ground to help create jobs and lasting economic growth that our country so desperately needs, and we look forward to hearing the presidents speech Thursday night. Of course, that night, which Obama ultimately accepted, was also problematic because the prime-time slot coincided with something far more important than a presidential speech on jobs and the economy - football The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints kick off at 8:30. Would the president mind too terribly much speaking before the game so as not to interfere? Once again, Obama obliged. Much has been written and said about the political implications of this folie a deux (shared psychosis) between the Democratic president and the Republican House leadership. Whose fault was it that things became so testy? The White Houses claim that Boehner had agreed to the date is false, according to Boehners office. When notified that the president wanted to address Congress, Boehner thanked the caller for the heads-up, but nothing was agreed upon when the White House prematurely announced the date. From the Republican perspective, there was no real downside to making Obama feel frustrated, as the president described his feelings in an e-mail to campaign supporters. Boehners resistance to the presidents request, even if justified under the circumstances described, merely added to the growing perception that Obama is weak. He cant get no respect. Recall that Boehner also refused to return the presidents phone calls for several days during the debt-ceiling debate. Rude, or just shrewd? The answer depends on whose side youre on and whose team is winning. Though Democrats may protest the speakers rudeness, they also feel the increasing loserness of Obama. As pure gamesmanship, whether intended, Boehners move was brilliant. Just as Obamas team had to know that his original request conflicted with a much-ballyhooed Republican debate, Boehners surely knew that the big game was on the alternative date he suggested. If Obamas speech wasnt compelling enough for Congress to pull a hasty resolution together, then what does it say that he cant compete with a ballgame? To be fair, all presidents have to be concerned with the timing of their public addresses. The Bush administration was no exception. Worse than going up against a football game in the idiocracy formerly known as the United States was competing with American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. In one sense, Obama will profit from his positioning just before kickoff. Some percentage of viewers will tune in to the last 15 minutes of a speech they otherwise might have missed. In another sense, however, Obamas presidency is further diminished by his perceived inability to prevail as the more important event of an evening. This isnt just any speech but one weve been awaiting for, oh, about three years - through a recession, unemployment that never dipped below the 8 percent level predicted way back when and an earthquake followed by a hurricane that disrupted the Obamas summer vacation. This is it. The one. The very speech that finally is going to lay out The Plan to put America back to work and get that old economy breaking a sweat again. Washington Post