Last night the President sat down for a working dinner with about a dozen Republican Senators with the purpose of hopefully sidestepping the political gridlock that has had a stranglehold on the U.S. political process for so long. Hopefully such endeavors could also put a stop to lurching form one manufactured crisis to another, and maybe even help forge a grand bargain to deal with the country’s fiscal issues.
It’s not like this is the first time President Obama has attempted to reach out to the other side. He attempted this many times in his first term to no avail. The difference here may be that instead of courting Republican leadership, he has decided to circumvent the leadership and go directly any rank and file Republicans willing to sit down and break bread with him.
Most accounts of the dinner from the Senators who attended was surprisingly positive, saying they had a very constructive discussion with the President. Many also expressed hope that he would continue to reach out to them in such a matter.
What might be most alarming is that at least some of this optimism seems to have come from specific details on what President Obama is offering to compromise on that is public knowledge. These senators shouldn’t need to have a face to face discussion with the President to know he’s serious about something like chained CPI.
Their idea of who President Obama is and what he is willing to do and who President Obama actually is and what he is actually willing to do is so distant that nothing short of a face to face discussion will convince his Republican opposition otherwise.
Republican leadership hasn’t been in control of their respective caucuses, so maybe this is the best course of action. Even if all this good will from both sides is both theater (mind you this is the most pessimistic possibility, but a possibility none the less) then at least the President is starting to remove the complaints from the table that he refuses to talk to the other side or “campaigns” too much when using the bully pulpit.
The President is said to travel to Capitol Hill next week to meet with both the Democrat and Republican caucuses of both the House and Senate. Let’s hope the charm offensive actually does some effectual charming and isn’t just political theater.