Fall forecast: Finger pointing and gridlock in Washington

President Barack Obama gestures after a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, where he urged Congress to pass a federal highway bill.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Barack Obama
President Obama gestures after a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

An ardent Obama supporter said yesterday, "why doesn't he just fight" and that about says it all. The latest kerfuffle over the timing of what is supposed to be a major speech on jobs broke down into a sandbox spat.

The White House seemed happy to be rebuffed by the House Republicans who after hitting the lowest approval rating ever recorded, should have done anything in their power to get back in the good graces of the public.

It's clear that the next 15 months will be utterly painful, disgusting and at times distasteful. The election season is nearly in full swing with congressional Republicans and presidential contenders on the warpath and Democrats and the White House on the defensive.

The July-into-August debt debacle left nearly every American with a bad taste in their mouth and angrier than ever that Washington just doesn't get it.

And sadly, for most Americans who are genuinely worried about this country, not much has changed.

As the nation turns the corner to Labor Day, Washington will turn its attention to meaningless finger pointing and futile attempts to do anything to jumpstart the economy.

The White House will aim to put together a package of common sense bipartisan jobs proposals, but everyone believes that plan, whatever it is, is apparently dead on arrival. If the House Republicans rebuff a request from the leader of the free world to borrow their office for a major speech on the biggest issue facing the country, why on earth would they support anything he proposes?

Obama's job speech set for 7 p.m. ET next Thursday
Speech time spat stemmed from allure of address to Congress
Bob Schieffer: Obama speech spat "ridiculous"

Right now, a rough economy politically doesn't hurt Republicans trying to blame a rough economy on the Democrats and the president. And political obstruction and deadlock only fuel the fire of diminished consumer confidence and confidence in the markets. (Exhibit A: S&P's downgrade of US credit because the political parties don't get along.)

S&P downgrade: The collision of Washington and Wall Street

After the speeches next week on job plans from President Obama and top Republican contenders, the so called "Super Committee" will do their part to further erode the standing of Washington. The committee, comprised of 12 members of the House and Senate, is also expected to fail to come up with significant debt reduction and any sort of tax reform, even though everyone is for some sort of tax reform. A failure of the committee will set in motion the so-call triggers of spending cuts that will hurt many Americans and provide more evidence that this nation's elected leaders can't get anything done.

The good news is the political season will soon fully take over and all eyes will be on the people who want to come to Washington or stay in Washington -- rather than those already in it who were elected to do act and can't seem to.

So the fate the economy and the nation rests on a spat over timing. Democrats want a fight. They don't want to be bullied by the proverbial Lucy, in this case John Boehner who keeps talking about working with the president and Democrats only to pull the ball away at the last minute. But his supporters say Mr. Obama, Charlie Brown in the analogy for those playing at home, needs to learn his lesson.

The president could have said no to the speaker's dismissal of his request for a big speech in front of Congress and just called a press conference instead. He could have said his plan and the economy is too important to wait another day.

But, with half of Congress firmly against him, he has little choice but to use that opposition to paint a picture of Republicans as obstructionists - as if the fate of his re-election could hang in the balance of whether or not he can show some fight.

  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.