Any hopes that a kinder, gentler bipartisan Washington would surface once Congress returns after Labor Day were summarily dashed on Wednesday when President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner clashed over, of all things, the date and time of the president's much-awaited speech to the nation about his proposal to increase jobs and fix the economy.In a surreal volley of letters, each released to the news media as soon as it was sent, Mr. Boehner rejected a request from the president to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday at 8 p.m. -- the same night that a Republican presidential debate is scheduled.In an extraordinary turn, the House speaker fired back his own letter to the president saying, in a word, no. Might the president be able to reschedule for the following night, Sept. 8?For several hours, the day turned into a very public game of chicken.
Then Obama agreed to September 8. The White House claims that they had no sense that scheduling an address on the same night as a Republican debate would be a problem. They also claim Boehner was fine with it until it all went public.
Both contentions seem incredible. And if Boehner was initially fine with it, it seems yet more incredible -- at this late date -- that the White House would be shocked to see him go back on his word.