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Special Report

Is Timing Everything for Obama?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 1, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The sideshows don't matter. The ec onomy matters, the American people matter, jobs matter. And that's what we are focused on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney doing his best to end the controversy over when the president will announce his new jobs plan next week.

And we're back now with the panel. Well, when we left you last night, we -- the president and the Speaker were still at loggerheads on when the president was going to address a joint session of Congress. As we've reported throughout the day today, the president finally backed down and agreed to Speaker Boehner's invitation to speak next Thursday, not next Wednesday, which means that he has to speak before and apparently is gonna speak at 7:00 p.m. to get off before the football game, but he is not going to interrupt the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday.

Mara, as a commentator on great events, your thoughts about the battle of the joint session?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And what a great event it was.

Ya know what a mess. The president looks like he caved but, on the other hand, I think it's better that he go on Thursday than there be a split screen between him and the GOP debate on Wednesday, or that they have a chance to respond to him, which they are not going to now. He gets a pretty clear shot on Thursday. Granted he will lose some of his audience to the football game or the pre-game show I guess, or just going to the kitchen to get some snacks. But I think the most important thing is that he give the speech. The speech is way overdue. He needs a jobs plan, he needs some clear overarching vision of how he will correct the economic slump and then he needs to go campaign on it every single day.

WALLACE: Do you agree, Fred, with Mara that in a sense Boehner saved Obama and the White House from their own ineptitude by having the speech on Thursday rather than Wednesday?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah maybe so. But look, the speech -- the speech is what is going to matter. We have forgotten all about the struggle and the president backed down and so on and the football game and all of that. This had better be the best speech that Obama has given since his State of the Union or since his campaign speeches, because, you know, people have turned him off.

I think he's gonna have a fairly small audience, consisting almost entirely of Democrats because Republicans -- I don't know a single Republican who watches Obama speeches anymore.

And there are a couple things I have to do. One he has to make the speech big enough to justify having called for a joint session of Congress in the first place. And look, so far, ya know, he has talked about doing things that were tried before and really didn't work in terms of creating jobs, ya know like extending unemployment, or things that were proposed and were never agreed to even by many Democrats. He basically bribed employers to hire long-term unemployed. One thing he needs to do is acknowledge the mountain of impediments that his administration is creating for the business community and is impeding job creation. I mean they are just out there. He ought to acknowledge it. It's the tax increases --

WALLACE: You mean and say, I've really screwed up this economy over the last --

[CROSSTALK]

BARNES: No, no, no. Say, look, I know they're out there. And then do something about them.

I mean, look, he is not going to have a regulatory moratorium, but he could call off some -- he could delay things some of these serious, particularly EPA regulations that are going on. He could complain about the decisions of the National Labor Relations Board. He could say look, you know, I'm going to hold down tax increases.

One of the dumbest things he did I think, or not smart, I'll put it that way, was leaping when Warren Buffett said you ought to increase taxes on the wealthy and Obama leaps at it and agrees with him. That is not getting him anywhere. That's just scaring off job creation.

WALLACE: I'm not sure I agree or expect that the president is gonna fall under the sword and talk about all of his policies and how much they've damaged the economy. But I mean, Fred makes a very good point. Which is you're having this grand event, ya know a joint session is a big deal. And how does it seem that he is not coming up on the stage and producing a bounce?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it's a huge tactical error, the delay, I mean simply announcing in August when you have high unemployment and you're in the vineyard and you say, well, I've got a plan, I know what I'm going to do and I'll announce it in two weeks or so after, ya know, after I play golf. It doesn't ring right. And now he has raised the stakes so high that he has to do something, you know, of the stature of sort of the level of FDR and the New Deal. And he doesn't have that in his -- in his quiver.

I do want to comment on the petty inside baseball stuff that my colleagues here have difficulty deigning to actually address. I'm happy to stoop to that level in fact.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: We expect no more.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's part of my job. Somebody has to do it so, I'll do it.

I think Boehner actually did rescue the president on this one because he was stepping all over a Republican debate. It looked small and petty. And now that the president is sort of acquiesced on the change of date, I think at least to independents -- Democrats are upset because he caved, but Democrats will support him anyway. The whole election will be about independents. And independents wanna see one side be magnanimous. So, to the minuscule extent that it actually will matter, is a positive on his side.

WALLACE: Are you going to be watching? Are you going to be getting ready for Thursday night football?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm paid to stoop and I'm paid to watch -- the president.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: I was going to say, watch what?

Thank you, all, panel. And that's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see just how far one company is willing to go to bring you the very best salmon.

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