I think the scheduling “conflict” between the President’s speech and the GOP debate is a neat bit of maneuvering on President Obama’s part. As Maggie Haberman writes,
Obama ultimately will still be able to cut off some of the free media oxygen of whatever narrative emerges from the debate by speaking to the nation the next day, which was almost certainly the goal of choosing the night of the face-off in the first place.
This little drama played out just as President Obama wanted it to play out. Yes, John Boehner also looks stronger to his base. The right-wing base cannot carry the 2012 election. They need the votes of the mushy, uncommitted middle to carry the election. The more the GOP looks intolerant and petty, the better for Obama.
IMO the discussion of this topic on last nights Last Word is worth watching.