Scheduling Conflicts: What it Says About Us and Them

The brouhaha over the scheduling of President Obama’s speech on Sept 7 — oops, I mean Sept 8 —  got me thinking about the countless times I’ve had trouble scheduling a meeting time, agreeing to a meeting time, heck, even making it to the meeting. Republican and House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence that the president move his televised jobs-creation speech to the joint session of Congress to a day other than Sept 7– and Obama agreeing to do so – has caused a national outrage and is now a page in the history books for being a “first”.

Couldn’t the two of them just used Tungle to schedule this meeting? Have you tried this? Truth is, it doesn’t really work because someone’s always busy on the day that everyone else can meet. But the participants think it’s cool. How many times have you been at the end of one meeting and the facilitator says, let’s get out our calendars and schedule the next meeting? Looking for consensus, we become temporarily paralyzed and agree to a date we think might conflict with another very important meeting.

And yet – doesn’t the President trump the Speaker of the House? If a PR agency’s client wants to have a meeting with the account director, you can be sure that account director will drop all calls, cancel the yoga class, and start working on an agenda. If your CEO calls a meeting, you’ll be there, right? If your child’s teacher calls a meeting to discuss Johnny’s behavior, you will be there even though you know it’s the teacher’s fault and Johnny is perfect. Which brings me to one problem in the new date of September 8 for Obama’s address – it’s the kick-off game of the NFL season. Which audience is more important – the members of Congress – or football-loving voters?

– Diane Schwartz

On Twitter @dianeschwartz


  • Wendy

    Actually, parliamentarian procedure says that when it comes to the President addressing the House of Representatives, he must be invited to do so. So no, in this case, the President does not “trump” the House Speaker. The President’s staff also sent the media release 15 minutes after the initial letter was sent to the House Speaker. Was it bold, rude, or assuming, for the President, and/or his staff to play chicken with the House, knowing what proper procedure was and ignoring it? That’s the bigger question, I believe.