Obama is having a blast berating congressional Republicans

July 30, 2014
Over the past month, President Obama has really amped up the light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek criticisms of congressional Republicans. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

 

As we all know, President Obama has clawed his way out of the cage that is the White House and is road Air Force One tripping across the United States to hang out with ordinary Americans who have written him letters, eat junk food, visit a shop outside Kansas City called "Cool Vintage Watches" and deliver speeches that are more reminiscent of an address that a candidate, not a second term president, might deliver.

And Obama appears to be having a blast - especially when he is berating congressional Republicans.

Obama has displayed far more mirth than anger while castigating congressional Republicans this summer, chuckling his way through explanations of how House Speaker John Boehner plans to file a lawsuit against him and seeming to delight in trolling Republicans before friendly audiences.

In Austin earlier this month a grinning Obama, flanked by people in University of Texas gear, compared his relationship with Republicans to a scene in the Martin Scorsese movie "The Departed," in which the character played by Mark Walhberg is on a stakeout and said, "I'm the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy."

In Kansas City Wednesday, a relaxed Obama appeared to revel in beating up the other party and making fun of its plans to sue him.

"And, by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they’re going to file? You," Obama said, laughing and pointing (employing a bit of the trigger finger Vice President Biden is better known for pulling out).

"No!" someone in the crowd at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City yelled.

"No, no -- you’re paying for it," Obama said, shrugging his hands. "And it’s estimated that by the time the thing was done, I would have already left office. So it’s not a productive thing to do."

Obama went so far far to call Republicans a bunch of haters.


President Obama delivers remarks to supporters as he talks about the economy and to rally support for his current economic policies in Kansas City, Missouri, 30 July 2014. EPA/ED ZURGA

"Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time.  Stop just hating all the time. Come on," Obama said, gesturing as though he wanted someone to come in and give him or her a big smack on the back. "Let’s get some work done together."

Obama clearly plays to his very receptive audiences, gesturing and pausing just long enough for the laughter to rise up and subside.

"I know they’re not that happy that I’m president, but that’s okay," he said, laughing at the audience reaction. "Come on. I’ve only got a couple of years left. Come on, let’s get some work done. Then you can be mad at the next president."

Because, Obama said, he's the one actually getting stuff done.

"I gather some of the Republicans in Congress are mad at me for going ahead and doing things," Obama, flanked by towering pines, told an enthusiastic crowd at Cheesman Park in Denver. "Don’t be mad at me for doing something."

The change in tone is significant and reflects what is meant to be a more populist, relaxed president who has ditched his suit jacket and often presses the flesh with people who have lined up to catch a glimpse of his motorcade. Most of all, Obama is making it known that he's just another guy who is frustrated at work - so frustrated that he laughs it off.

Obama said in Denver that he understands that they are annoyed with how things work - or don't work - in Washington. He is similarly exasperated.

 “There are some things I have to mutter under my breath sometimes,” he said.

Republicans are, obviously, not happy.

“The White House strategy is strange, cynical and counter-productive," Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. "President Obama asked Congress for billions of dollars – with no strings attached.  But, then, rather than working with lawmakers to get a bill passed, he flew 1,000 miles away and gave a snarky speech bashing Congress. Whether it’s barbecue in Kansas City or burgers in Delaware, this president is literally out to lunch.”

 

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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