The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan taught us.
With that in mind, what should we make of the fact that President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress on the evening of Sept. 7 to lay out his jobs program?
The high-profile setting, with live coverage by the networks and news channels almost guaranteed, would suggest that Obama intends to be ambitious in his proposal. A more cynical mind would also note that Obama might be treating this as the kickoff to his 2012 election campaign, using the speech to lay out a series of proposals and publicly challenge a highly unpopular Congress to adopt them.
If Obama has decided to model his campaign on Harry Truman’s 1948 successful campaign, in which “Give ‘em Hell” Harry ran hard against a do-nothing Congress, this would seem to be a great opportunity to drive that message home.
Of course, that’s not how the White House put it in the letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: