President Obama is fun. But he doesn't think it will help resolve the debt ceiling crisis.
At his news conference Monday, Obama rejected the idea that he needs to socialize more with other politicians. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is the latest to suggest that the president could get more done if he was more of a "people person.") Even so, he suggested that House Republicans could come over for a game of cards sometime.
"[M]ost people who know me know I -- I’m a pretty friendly guy. And I like a good party," Obama said. "I think that really what’s gone on in terms of some of the paralysis here in Washington, or difficulties in negotiations, just have to do with some very stark differences in terms of policy."
He noted that he has played golf with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and chats with members at the annual congressional picnic.
"But it doesn't prevent them from going onto the floor of the House and, you know, blasting me for being a big-spending socialist," he said. "The reason that in many cases Congress votes the way they do or talks the way they talk, or takes positions in negotiations that they take, doesn't have to do with me. It has to do with the imperatives that they feel in terms of their own politics."
If he doesn't spend much time with Republicans, he said, it's because "they don't consider the optics useful for them politically." He noted that Charlie Crist's career as a Republican was effectively killed when the Florida governor gave Obama a hug.
Still, he acknowledged that "I can always do a better job" and suggested that he would soon have more free time. "And the nice thing is is that now that my girls are getting older, they don’t want to spend that much time with me anyway, so I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house. So maybe -- maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more."
Obama's plea has inspired a hashtag, #obamaneedsfriends.
Some Republicans have repeatedly declined to spend time with Obama. Boehner chose not to be photographed with the president at last year's White House Christmas party and has refused invitations to five state dinners in a row. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also turned down multiple state dinners. Many new Republican House members chose not to come to a reception Obama held for the incoming freshmen in 2011.
Boehner and McConnell also both turned down an invitation to watch "Lincoln" at the White House, along with three Republican senators -- Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Olympia Snowe of Maine.