‘There is one president’

The media is making quite a fuss over the fact that President Obama intends to deliver his speech on the economy to a joint session of Congress at the same time as a debate for Republican presidential candidates. Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded questions from reporters who wanted to know if the president is trying to step on the GOP field’s toes.

“No, of course not. There were a lot of considerations that once you decide you want to do a speech to Congress, and you have to deal with congressional schedules and there are many other factors here. And obviously one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.

“[T]here are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech. And again, you can never find a perfect time. There are major events that occur on television. There are other issues that you have to deal with, as well as congressional scheduling and the President’s scheduling. So as I just noted, there are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the President, and obviously, an opportunity for people to watch the debate. The network involved here can decide how it wants to deal.”

“There’s one president,” Carney added. “There’s 20-some odd debates.”

Also of note from today’s briefing, Carney reminded reporters, “In normal times, the proposals [the president will put] forward next week would gain substantial, broad bipartisan support, especially in an economic situation like we face now.”

It’s helpful to remind the political world from time to time that our current circumstances — i.e., with a radicalized Republican Party running the House of Representatives — are anything but “normal.”

Pressed on fiscal considerations, the press secretary also noted that everything in the president’s agenda will be “absolutely paid for.” That’s a little disappointing — there’s free money sitting on the table — but not terribly surprising.

And in the “Worst Question” category, a reporter asked Carney, “Any concern of potentially upsetting Nancy Reagan by stepping on this?”

You see, next week’s Republican debate will be at the Reagan Library in California, so apparently the White House is supposed to be concerned about whether the president’s speech about the economy is going to hurt the former First Lady’s feelings.

For what it’s worth, rumor has it this afternoon that NBC will shift the timing of the debate so that it airs after the national address.