If President Barack Obama thought having a private lunch with Republican senators would ease partisan tensions in Congress, he grabbed the wrong recipe.Ouch. Way to go, Bob. Keep it up.
The president walked into a remarkably contentious 80-minute session Tuesday in which GOP senators accused him of duplicity, audacity and unbending partisanship. Lawmakers said the testy exchange left legislative logjams intact, and one GOP leader said nothing is likely to change before the November elections.
Obama's sharpest accuser was Bob Corker of Tennessee, a first-term senator who feels the administration undermined his efforts to craft a bipartisan financial regulation bill.
"I told him I thought there was a degree of audacity in him even showing up today after what happened with financial regulation," Corker told reporters. "I just wanted him to tell me how, when he wakes up in the morning, comes over to a luncheon like ours today, how does he reconcile that duplicity?"
Four people who were in the room said Obama bristled and defended his administration's handling of negotiations. On the way out, Corker said, Obama approached him and both men repeated their main points.Yes, he does have a tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth. About time these guys noticed.
"I told him there was a tremendous disconnect from his words and the actions of his administration," Corker said.
The fun continued.
"He needs to take a Valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters. "He's pretty thin-skinned."I find that difficult to believe since his haughty staffers pretty much wear their ignorance of the law like a badge of honor. Since Obama is supposedly some super-genius lawyer, he can't possibly have read the law and still have any concerns.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he addressed Obama, "trying to demand overdue action" on the giant oil spill damaging Gulf coast states. He said got "no specific response" except Obama's pledge to have an authoritative White House official call him within hours.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama's 2008 presidential opponent, said he pressed the president on immigration issues. McCain said he told Obama "we need to secure the border first" before taking other steps. "The president didn't agree," he said.
McCain said he defended his state's pending immigration law, which Obama says could lead to discrimination. It directs police, when questioning people about possible law violations, to ask about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" they're in the country illegally.
At the luncheon, McCain said, "I pointed out that members of his administration who have not read the law have mischaracterized the law—a very egregious act on their part."
Burton said Obama told McCain that he has read the Arizona law himself, and his concerns remain.
His ignorance is showing.
Obama would prefer they all just shut up. But the days of just showing up and saying "I won" are a distant memory.
Besides, Obama has no time for the GOP. He's got money to raise for endangered Democrats.
As the Senate wrapped up its business Tuesday, Obama was flying to California to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, one of Congress' most liberal members and a top GOP target this fall.That didn't turn out so well the last time. I wonder if he'll be heckled again?
Speaking of fundraisers, while his administration crumbles in the face of the disastrous Gulf oil spill, his EPA chief sets off to raise money for Democrats. Glad to see they've got their priorities in order.
So much for change.