For quite a while, congressional Republicans have been demanding more from the White House on the economy. But now that President Obama is poised to deliver a speech to a joint session, some of those same GOP lawmakers have decided they’re not even willing to listen.
Rep. Paul Broun, who made headlines when he skipped the State of the Union address in January but tweeted about it, is planning a repeat performance Thursday.
President Barack Obama will talk about job creation before a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m., but Broun and several other Members won’t be part of the audience sitting in the House chamber, whether for political or personal reasons. […]
Rep. Joe Walsh announced last week that he would host a small-business jobs forum in his Illinois district instead of attending the speech. According to a news release from the Republican’s office, he will fly to his district after votes are finished Thursday to talk to “the real job creators about creating real jobs.”
In fairness, it appears that the number of Republicans who intend to boycott the economic speech is rather small. But under the circumstances, the notion of elected lawmakers boycotting the address at all seems pretty ridiculous.
Also note, it’s not just the House — Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told ABC yesterday he’s “so frustrated” that he’ll probably stay away from the event, too.
In case this isn’t obvious, there is an expectation on all members to attend joint-session speeches. It’s not just out of recognition of the issue at hand — in this case, the importance of the economy — but it’s also a way of acknowledging respect for the presidency itself. Given the Republican campaign to delegitimize President Obama, I suppose the boycotts shouldn’t come as too big a surprise.
But the larger point for the public remains straightforward: the White House continues to try to work in good faith on the issues that matter most, only to find some Republicans in Congress who literally aren’t willing to hear the president out.
Postscript: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) may also not attend, but not for political reasons — his mother has fallen ill after suffering a series of recent strokes.