Witte: Obama speech timing reflects Americans’ poor priorities


Two men watching television

Jacob Witte

We’ll have this speech … whenever.

After President Barack Obama announced he would give a speech about a new jobs initiative he wants Congress to focus on in order to get us out of this economic stagnation, he called for a joint session of Congress in order to give this speech — a rather rare occurrence these days. The problem is, however, he just couldn’t decide when to give this speech.

He originally scheduled the speech for last Wednesday, which he had to change. He had to do this because it would conflict with the Republican Debate. Republicans have already had several debates by now, but the president felt he had to change it to Thursday night. So even though GOP contenders would likely spend the evening blaming Obama for every current ill in this country, the president decided to be diplomatic and change the date of the speech. Choose your battles, right?

Then, another scheduling conflict arose when the speech was scheduled for Thursday night. He scheduled the speech for 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, but it just so happened that the NFL’s opening game, the Green Bay Packers versus the New Orleans Saints, was also scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. EDT. So what did the White House decide to do about this? Move the time up, of course! The speech ended up being broadcast about a full hour before the football game, just so all the pregame pageantry would not be disturbed.

I tend to enjoy football as much as the next guy, and I am even a Green Bay Packer fan. However, the notion that the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, has to move a critical speech in a dire time because of a football game is simply pathetic. Are we as a country so ass backward when it comes to priorities that we have a knee-jerk reaction when the president schedules a speech that just happens to coincide with missing a few minutes of a football game?

Each NFL team plays 16 games per regular season. That measures out to 64 quarters. And at 15 minutes per quarter, that comes out to 960 minutes. And that does not even count preseason, games that go into overtime and playoffs. Hours can be added to many teams through those circumstances. So out of the most basic 960 minutes, it appears that we as a nation cannot withstand missing 10 to 15 of these in order to hear our president give a speech about a seemingly important topic: how to attempt to fix the economic calamity we currently find ourselves in.

I know, I know, this may seem like making a mountain out of a molehill, right? However, this goes to a bigger problem, that being the priorities of the American people. President Obama should have kept the original time slot for Thursday night, in order to make people realize that public policy that concerns us all is more important than watching the gladiatorial games at the Roman Colosseum — football game. Sorry, Freudian slip.