Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011 | 2 a.m.
As President Barack Obama prepares to go to Congress tonight to speak to lawmakers about his plans for the economy, some Republican lawmakers are making preparations of their own — to be elsewhere.
• Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina said he didn’t think he would attend because, as he told Fox News, he is “sick and tired of (the president’s) speeches.”
• Sen. David Vitter said he would listen to the president’s speech from his home in Louisiana, where he was going to watch football. “Family and friends coming over for big game,” he wrote on Facebook, referring to the NFL’s opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. Kickoff is after the president’s speech.
• Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia plans to be in his office during the speech and hold a “Twitter town hall” so he can “interact with his constituents,” a spokeswoman said. She told CBS News that Broun is a “multitasker” and would watch the speech at the same time.
• Rep. Joe Walsh told MSNBC that he’ll be back in his home state, Illinois. He went so far as to claim that the president is “abusing” his position by asking to speak before a joint session of Congress. He said such sessions were reserved “for heads of states ... and presidents in moments in crisis, and monumental moments.” He tried to dismiss the president’s speech by calling it “political theater.”
Have Walsh and his colleagues forgotten that the nation is in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression? Americans need help, and it is disgraceful that any Republicans would boycott the president’s speech, much less try to dismiss it out of hand.
But this is typical for the Republicans, who have tried to block many key policy proposals in Congress as part of their effort to tear down the president and help their own party in next year’s election. And yet they have the audacity to call the president’s actions political.
In the meantime, the nation’s economy is sagging.
Republicans should be in Washington working with the president to find ways to stimulate the economy. But we don’t expect the Republicans to change, much less embrace anything in the speech — if they even listen. They may be too busy tweeting, watching the pregame show or just complaining about the president.