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Friday, May 12, 2006

Deal or No Deal

UPDATE: Or not.

A little baseless speculation, which will in all likelihood be confirmed or disproved in a matter of minutes: Bush wants network time on Monday night to talk immigration. The networks always whine and balk when the president wants to horn in on primetime, but they will be especially vigorous this time because they're in the middle of sweeps right now. And they've grown increasingly skeptical Bush's primetime requests over the past couple years because they believe the White House uses the speeches for political purposes. As one (conservative) network executive put it to me a while back: "We have an obligation to give over time to the White House when the president needs to address the American people, but we don't have an obligation to give him time to help him politically." He complained that the White House always seems to ask for time when it's in a political tight spot.

And it's abundantly clear that that's what is going on right now: He's trying to change the subject. And why a legislative initiative like immigration reform--one that's been endlessly debated and on which the White House has had ample time to communicate its position--deserves a primetime speech is unclear.

Add to that the fact that the president is weaker than he's ever been, and I think you just might see the networks stiff him this time.