Obama, Boehner an 'Unsettling Spectacle'

Speeches long on politics, short on solutions
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2011 7:29 AM CDT
Updated Jul 26, 2011 7:50 AM CDT
Speaker of the House John Boehner stands amid television lights at the Capitol after responding to President Obama's remarks about averting default and dealing with the federal deficit, July 25, 2011.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – President Obama and John Boehner gave dueling speeches last night, and the news was not good. Here's what the pundits are taking away from it all:

  • If people—or markets—were looking for reassurance, “they were out of luck,” observes Politico. Instead, Obama and Boehner “treated viewers to the unsettling spectacle of two leaders talking past, not to, each other,” with Obama even issuing a “stunning” plea for people to call their representatives.

  • Obama’s speech proved this isn’t a left vs. right debate. “It’s center vs. right,” argues EJ Dionne of the Washington Post. “There was nothing remotely ‘left’ in this speech.” With some deft rhetorical touches—like quoting Ronald Reagan— “my hunch is that Obama’s speech spoke more to middle-of-the-road Americans.”
  • But William Kristol of the Weekly Standard thought Obama came across as condescending—especially when he said most Americans had probably never heard of the debt ceiling. “It would be nice to have a president who spoke candidly to his fellow citizens as adults,” he writes.
  • Boehner, meanwhile, went “full-tilt Tea Party crazy,” writes Joan Walsh of Salon. He acted as though he and Obama had never discussed a deal at all, while demanding a balanced budget amendment—which is “extraordinarily apocalyptic and insane,” because Boehner knows that can’t pass. “Hell, he probably doesn’t even want it.” He’s just moving the goal posts on Obama again.

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