Friday, November 20, 2009

Congress: Weekend warriors? NOT!

Karl Rove does a thorough job in his Wall Street Journal opinion column this week, "The Permanent Campaign Continues", of detailing the Obama White House trend of releasing damaging or controversial news on Fridays. (h/t Dinah Spell)
On Friday, Jan. 30, President Obama revoked the ban on giving taxpayer dollars to international groups that promote or perform abortions abroad. [snip]

On Friday, Feb. 27, Mr. Obama announced he would end U.S. combat activities in Iraq in 18 months. This was a much longer combat presence than his antiwar base wanted.

On Friday, April 17, Mr. Obama lifted some limits on the use of federal funds for the creation and subsequent destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research. [snip]

On Friday, May 15, Mr. Obama announced he would keep George W. Bush's military tribunals to try terrorist detainees, angering civil libertarians and antiwar activists in the Democratic Party's left wing who thought the administration would dismantle the entire Bush antiterror structure.

On Friday, Sept. 15, Mr. Obama admitted that it was unlikely he'd meet his own deadline of closing the Guantanamo detention facility in his first year in office, again angering left-wing supporters and demonstrating that exuberant promises made on the campaign trail and during his first days in office were ill-considered and naïve.

On Friday, Oct. 30, Mr. Obama delivered a double dose of late-breaking news. To respond to increasing criticism of the stimulus's failure to curb rising unemployment, the White House announced it had "created or saved" at least one million jobs since February. It hoped for one weekend in which the "million jobs created or saved" mantra had a relatively free and uncontested run before economists chewed the number up and spit it out. A week later, the unemployment rate hit 10.2%.

Then there was this past Friday, when the White House delivered a double news dose with a foreign twist. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other terrorists would be tried in a civilian court in New York City rather than before a military tribunal. Later that day, the administration announced that White House Counsel Greg Craig was leaving and would be replaced by Democratic National Committee lawyer Bob Bauer. Mr. Obama? He was safely in the air flying to Asia, having left the day before with most of his press corps in tow.
He also explains the underlying motivations:
Do Friday news dumps work? Yes, but marginally. The White House press corps is generally exhausted at the end of a long week. Congressional critics are either in route back home to their districts or already there. Friday night network television news and Saturday newspapers and cable coverage are traditionally less seen or read. By Sunday morning, a Friday announcement is often considered old news. Monday is the first opportunity White House correspondents get to ask the president's press secretary on camera about whatever was released Friday. By then there is almost always other news occupying the headlines.
The Congress has taken a cue from the President by ramming through watershed legislation on the weekend, first with the health care reform passed by the House at 11 PM on November 7th, and now with the planned Saturday (Sunday?) vote on debating Reid's 2,074 page version.

This scheduling is not driven by the leadership's burning passion to secure healthcare for the uninsured.  Rather, it is a recognition that every time elected officials go back to their home districts, they are barraged by a plurality of their constituents who are strongly opposed to any government takeover of healthcare.  They can't afford to let them go home!

Fox News poll released today surely gives Democrats facing 2010 elections pause:
More Americans continue to oppose the health care reform legislation than support it, according to a Fox News poll released Friday. In addition, half favor banning the use of federal funds for abortions.

By 51 percent to 35 percent, the public opposes the reform legislation being considered right now by Congress. Last month, a majority opposed the health care legislation by a similar 54-35 percent (October 13-14, 2009).

While a majority of Democrats favor the reforms (65 percent), some 17 percent are opposed and another 18 percent are unsure. Most Republicans (82 percent) and a majority of independents (61 percent) oppose the legislation.

Seniors aged 65 and over oppose to the legislation by 56-30 percent, while voters under age 30 are slightly more likely to be in favor of it (45-41 percent). (emphasis mine)
Read the whole thingClick here to see the poll.

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