In Wuthering Heights, Catherine says of Heathcliff: “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary ... He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” Based on the serialized romance novel political reporters have been writing since 2010, Emily Bronte might as well have been writing about President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, because the Gothic romance they share is exactly the same. Both men like golf, cigarettes, and Merlot. They have had a tempestuous relationship, and often say mean things about each other in public, before doing an about-face and renewing their devotion to each other in the press.
Today we added a new chapter to the passionate tale of Washington's favorite "power couple." Obama and Boehner met in the White House -- for the first time since 2012 -- to discuss immigration and the minimum wage. Will these "oil and water" opposites attract, or will they go the way of Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy? We'll have to wait for the next breathless installment of this series to find out. Here are some of the best excerpts of previous coverage of Boehner and Obama's relationship.
February 24, 2010: "They have spent little time together since Mr. Obama took office. White House and Congressional aides who have seen them interact describe the encounters as “strained” and “scripted.” Mr. Boehner last week accused the president of being a “finger-wagging” lecturer, while Mr. Obama has complained to an aide that some House Republican leaders “smirk” through their meetings. If good chemistry is essential to good politics, as Senator Ted Kennedy used to say, these guys are in oil and water territory."
September 8, 2010: "Obama and Boehner are cordial with one another at weekly leadership meetings, but there's little if any communication between them, not even back-channel contacts, White House officials admit."
November 3, 2010: "After the 2008 election, Obama was the winner and the well-appointed Boehner was the loser. Obama went for the jugular - or the skin covering it. 'We have a lot in common. He is a person of color,' Obama mocked. 'Although not a color that appears in the natural world. Wazzup, John!' Boehner watched impassively when shown a clip of the remark by CNN's John King later, trying to play it off. 'As I tell my friends, you only tease the ones you love,' he said."
November 9, 2010: "Washington Worries About Its New Power Couple"
December 2, 2010: "At first glance, Obama and Boehner appear to have at least a few things in common: golf, cigarettes, and merlot, for starters."
December 13, 2010: "In a 45-minute speech on the economy on September 8th, Obama called out Boehner, by name, eight times."
January 6, 2011: "'We know each other pretty well and we get along fine,' Boehner said. 'I really don't know what to expect from the president, but I have told him that I will always be open and up front with him.' And, Boehner said with a smile, 'I expect we will talking again very soon.'"
April 10, 2011: "Obama and Boehner relationship brightens with deal"
June 16, 2011: "The golf date didn’t just materialize suddenly as somebody’s inspiration. The idea has been talked about in the media, starting months ago."
June 16, 2011: "'The putting green is not a negotiating table but it doesn't need to be,' he said. 'This should be about these two leaders forming a more solid personal relationship for the hard bargaining to come. There won't be any gimmes when it comes to balancing the budget so there will have to be greater trust and a game of golf might just help that.'"
July 9, 2011: "Relationship between Obama and Boehner builds at critical moment"
July 22, 2011: "In a manner of speaking, President Obama got a lesson in what so many of my single friends and I know too well: when a guy won’t call you back, he’s just not that into you. So, here’s some advice for the president, based on the collective wisdom of my single friends and the modern dating bible, 'he’s just not that into you.'"
July 23, 2011: "After rarely courting over the previous two years, the pair had an intense summer bromance they’ll never forget: a big outing, frequent dates (albeit with an occasional third wheel), shared secrets, big dreams, their friends cheering them on. But it was promises, promises – all the time promises. Then President Barack Obama began to complain that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) never wants to talk about problems – he just leaves. Boehner stewed that Obama doesn’t know what he really wants, and keeps changing his mind. There were breakups and reconciliations. But they stayed together to protect their reputations around campus, and for the good of the country. The president gave the speaker his freedom, figuring that if what they had was really real, he’d come back before long, and they could consummate things before going off on separate vacations. Then on Friday, SPLITSVILLE. And we’re not talking moping, or regret, or private tears. They were so furious, they told EVERYONE."
November 6, 2011: “The president and I have a pretty good relationship. You know, it’s been a little frosty here the last few weeks, but we’ve got a pretty good relationship… And I told the president, I’m the most straight-up, transparent person in this town. I would never mislead him, my word is my bond, Democrats and Republicans here in Washington understand that, and so we’ve got a pretty good relationship.”
November 25, 2011: "The relationship between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has taken a turn for the worse."
January 21, 2012: "The president-speaker relationship, the critical nexus for U.S. lawmaking, is now non-existent, said a White House official with direct knowledge. The two leaders, known for forging compromises and making deals, rarely even speak."
November 16, 2012: "The men's relationship did not start badly. Mr. Obama has said that Mr. Boehner reminded him of the Midwestern ''Rotary Club Republicans'' he worked with in the Illinois Senate. Aides say Mr. Obama especially appreciated Mr. Boehner's geniality, given what administration officials see as the contemptuousness of the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky."
September 3, 2012: "Well, I get the sense that there is at this point no love lost between the two of them. Speaker Boehner said at one point we didn't get to use -- President Obama is not my kind of guy and President Obama scoffs at Speaker Boehner. I think it's sort of a bromance gone bad and they sort of both feel frustrated that they could have had this legacy-making deal and every time they look at the other one he's the reason it didn't work."
(via JulieAnn McKellogg)
March 1, 2013: "This is the exact body language a couple uses when they break up in a car."
April 27, 2013: "Riffing on Obama’s up-and-down relationship with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), O’Brien compared the two to “a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow."
October 4, 2013: "But when their relationship was seriously tested, it became clear that these two men are not wholly compatible."
October 8. 2013: "The Obama-Boehner relationship status: It’s complicated"
October 28, 2013: "Can you imagine Boehner kissing President Obama on the forehead?"
January 24, 2014: "For both leaders, Tuesday will kick off the fourth year of a topsy-turvy relationship — one that's taken them from political strangers to intense negotiating partners to finger-pointing combatants. How their ever-changing relationship plays out will help frame the year's coming battles over everything from immigration reform to federal spending. More broadly, it offers a window into Washington's partisan paralysis, as well as a hint at their respective and intertwined legacies."
January 28, 2014: "Friends at last? Obama and John Boehner share warm moment at State of the Union"
February 25, 2014: "House Speaker John A. Boehner is headed to the White House to meet with President Obama on Tuesday, but expectations are low that much will come from their first face-to-face session in more than a year."