In his Weekly Radio Address Obama said something unusual. He referred to Republican Congressional leaders as "principled people" with whom it was possible to have an "honest disagreement," even in a "contentious debate" on issues like the Sequester. That's a big change from previous statements where he blamed the GOP for anything bad that might happen as a result of the Sequester or past attacks where he suggested Republicans want "Dirtier air, dirtier water" or "children with autism" to "fend for themselves.
Obama's Saturday remarks came after several days of visibly reaching out to GOP leaders. He had a dinner with Senate leaders on Wednesday and on Thursday had lunch with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Mitt Romney's former running mate and current Chairman of the House Budget Committee. These meetings are noteworthy because they are so rare. Almost unprecedented. Congressman Ryan pointed out that this is the first time he's actually had a serious conversation with Obama yet Ryan is the key point man for passing a budget in the House of Representatives.
Peggy Noonan reports that the dinner with Senators had mixed reviews from attendees. When Obama was pressed to follow up this outreach with a program to continue work to find a solution to the seemingly never ending Washington crisis du jour he pulled back. Whoa there! I guess this might just be another PR stunt after all!
That's how I see it. We've four years of experience of Obama in the White House and precious little evidence he's willing to do the hard work of providing presidential leadership to work toward real solutions. He's much more interested in short term political advantage and it's well known he's out to defeat House Republicans in 2014 mid term elections so he can proceed with his liberal agenda unhindered in the last two years of his presidency.
But he overplayed his hand with the Sequester scare stories and many of his usual accomplices in the mainstream media refused to cover up the lies that Obama and friends were telling about the Sequester. So, here we are with the unusual public display of Obama being seen to reach out to Republicans.
The test of his sincerity will come when he's asked to compromise and accept the validity of Republican ideas without a return to the hyper partisan attack rhetoric which has been the hallmark of his first Administration. My bet is that the leopard can't change his spots and neither can Obama. Once a Chicago politician, always a Chicago politician. A dinner and a lunch won't change that!
UPDATE: Obama back to attack on Ryan Budget
In an interview for ABC News on Tuesday Obama went back to partisan attack rhetoric when the subject of Rep. Paul Ryan's balanced budget plan came up. Remember that this is the same Paul Ryan that Obama had invited to lunch just days ago. Obama said he didn't favor a "balanced budget just for the sake of balance" even though balance is one of his favorite words. He went on to say:
If we controlled spending and we have a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance- but it is not balance to on the backs of the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families that have disabled kidsWhatever happened to that honest debate Obama wanted?
Obama's Campaign Organization "Not Partisan"
On a not unrelated note, an op-ed by the Executive Director of Organizing for Action, the former Obama campaign organization, in which he claims it's not a partisan political organization. Maybe the people who voted for Obama are dumb enough to believe that but really! I wonder just how many Republicans this organization will be supporting in 2014?