You’re the President of the United States . . . Monday, Sep 5 2011 

. . . and you’re sending a long-overdue jobs program to a contentious Congress. To work up public support you plan to deliver a prime-time speech from the Oval Office, asking the American people to call, write, contact their representatives on Capitol Hill, to let them know their constituents support the President’s program.

Question: What’s wrong with that scenario? Answer: Nothing if you’re a politically savvy president named Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, more interested in getting your message across than in the spotlight of delivering it.  What better way to put pressure on members of Congress than a direct appeal to their constituents?

But if you’re Barack Obama, that’s not the way to go: Center stage, captive audience, on-camera — daytime, prime-time, anytime — is the be-all and end-all of his presidential leadership. So it is that having earned the distinction of being the most over-exposed president in American history, the Lecturer-in-Chief now moves to make the calling of a congressional joint session commonplace.

What’s that, the President again, speaking to Congress? Must be a summer re-run. Flip the channel.

Welcome to Cheneyland Monday, Sep 5 2011 

One glance at the cover jacket to Dick Cheney’s memoir, In My Time, tells all we need to know about the substance and spirit of the book within: It’s a full-color photograph of the author astride the royal red carpet that presidents since Ronald Reagan have used on entering the White House East Room for a televised news conference.

Same old Cheney, delusional as ever. This, remember, was the Vice President who thought nothing of using a motorcade of eighteen vehicles, sirens blaring, to go to his White House office – a distance of only two miles – every morning; who attended a Chesapeake Bay reception surrounded by a contingent of seventy armed Secret Service agents, with a hovering helicopter and three motorized boats circling the water in the event Osama bin Laden managed to slip a suicide submarine past the Coast Guard to launch a dirty bomb.

More reminders? How about the full-moon paranoia of the Vice President hunkered down each night at an “undisclosed location” while the President himself had no problem putting in eight hours’ sleep at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Or the Vice President’s refusing to show up for the 2002 State of the Union address because, he explained, there was high-risk, post-9/11, in the President and Vice President’s being in the same building at the same time.

But of course. Given the possibility of al Qaeda’s slipping past the Army, Navy, Air Force, Secret Service and FBI to bomb the Capitol, we’d need a back-up plan if the President, Congress, Cabinet and Supreme Court were wiped out. Comforting to know, President Cheney would be on the phone (at some undisclosed location), telling Air Force One where to pick him up.

Sound Bite to Remember (Civil War variety) Monday, Sep 5 2011 

“I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.”

— General George Pickett, on being asked whether it was Lee’s indecision, Longstreet’s delay, or J.E.B. Stuart’s absence that led to the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg.