Obama vs. Boehner speech spat: Another sign of presidential disrespect?

For the first time, Congress refused a president's request to speak before a joint session. Some Dems see this as part of a pattern of disrespect toward Obama.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/File
President Barack Obama meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio at the White House in July over the debt ceiling negotiations. File)

The spat between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner is now settled: the President will address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8, jousting with opening night of the NFL season instead of the previously-scheduled Republican presidential debate the night prior.

On one level, the tiff is just another example of the kind of Washington bickering that has become standard fare of late. But there’s one aspect of this story that may have legs — if it provides the president’s supporters with yet another piece of evidence that he is not being treated with the deference due (and typically given) the President of the United States. (The president’s request to appear before a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7 was turned down for what may have been the first time in history.)

Last month, the Progressive National Baptist Convention - a religious denomination that began in support of Martin Luther King Jr’s civil rights agenda - issued a resolution decrying the “disrespect” President Obama has encountered since taking office.

The resolution cited South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson shouting “you lie” during the president’s healthcare speech before Congress (in reaction to Obama saying that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be covered under his plan) and Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn saying in an interview that he didn’t want to “be associated” with Obama because it was “like touching a tar baby … you know, you are stuck, and you are part of the problem.”

“Conventional wisdom suggests if comments like these were targeted to past holders of this nation’s highest office of another/preferred hue,” the resolution reads, “serious repercussive actions would have immediately followed those making said comments.”
In addition, progressive firebrand Al Sharpton called the Speaker’s refusal part of a “game of disrespect” on his show on MSNBC.

Will Speaker Boehner’s pushback — answering the president’s request to address Congress on Sept 7 by instead insisting he appear on Sept. 8 — be seen as yet another example?

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