President Obama’s and House Speaker John Boehner’s best efforts to become collegial negotiators hit a roadblock Monday night, with Boehner delivering a speech that suggests all their work together in recent months has meant little to the current debate.
Obama played a round of golf with Boehner last month, and earlier in the debt-limit talks he praised the speaker as “a good man,” but on Monday night, he appeared to have lost an ally, as the two descended on a very stiff deadline to extend the federal debt limit.
Really, though, that’s reading too much into relationship they were supposed to have forged. And it’s also reading too much into their public posturing.
Obama used his speech to provide Boehner with political cover, suggesting that the speaker was forced to walk away from the table this weekend because “a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach.” This appeared to be Obama’s best effort to empathize with Boehner’s situation, and a good-faith effort to extend an olive branch (along with not-so-subtly blaming House Republicans).
Boehner then responded by delivering a speech that showed very much where his loyalties remain — to the GOP caucus and its ideals. He delivered a speech that was defiant and offered no platitudes about compromise.
That things panned out like this isn’t terribly surprising.
Obama, after all, is very happy to play the middle-of-the-road negotiator here, and his speech Monday contained significantly more of Professor Obama and significantly less of the Angry Obama we saw in recent press conferences.
Boehner, meanwhile, has long dealt with an unruly caucus — even if his leadership team is still figuring out how to deal with it. And while being collegial in private negotiations is one thing, delivering a very public speech responding to Obama meant Boehner was also speaking to his membership, and he had to assure them that he’s still on their side.
Boehner used the speech to hit Obama for a “spending binge” that includes his signature health-care bill, and said the president “would not take yes for an answer.”
“The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,” Boehner said. “That is just not going to happen.”
Ouch. So much for progress.
A lot of this is posturing, of course — even Obama’s play for the middle — and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Boehner may have come off as the uncompromising, line-in-the-sand leader of the GOP on Monday, but that posture can change in a heartbeat, as we've found with the continuing stops and starts that have occurred in recent weeks.
And this isn’t the first time that Boehner has had harsh words for Obama. Earlier this year, he said the president needed to “grow up” when it comes to the deficit. In spite of those words, the two men have been able to work together — at least, thus far.
Boehner has little choice but to put on a tough face in public. But he’s also serving notice that his personal connection with the president shouldn’t be overestimated.
And really, this is what the Obama-Boehner relationship has always been about: opponents trying to be cordial while standing up for their priorities.
That’s still very doable, even after Boehner’s speech Monday.
Poll shows only 40 percent know Romney is Mormon: A new poll shows that most people are unaware that Mitt Romney is a Mormon.
The Public Religion Research Institute poll shows just two in five voters correctly identify Romney’s religion, which is supposed by some to be a significant hindrance to his presidential amibitions.
Gallup recently showed that 22 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon (another presidential candidate, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, also follows that faith).
The new polling suggests that resistance to a Mormon candidate likely wouldn’t be felt until a general election.
Hoekstra opponent to drop out: Former congressman Pete Hoekstra has a clearer path to the Michigan GOP Senate nomination, with his chief primary opponent set to drop out.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch is set to drop out of the race today and endorse Hoekstra, who launched his campaign against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) last week.
It’s good news for Hoesktra — particularly because he hasn’t generally been a strong fundraiser. Spending a bunch of money to win the primary is best to be avoided, given Stabenow’s financial headstart.
House Republicans are being cautious — even when it comes to Boehner’s proposal.
Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) amends his personal financial disclosure forms to include some valuable property. His minimum net worth, meanwhile, rises by 10 times.
As expected, retiring Rep. Dale Kildee’s (D-Mich.) nephew, former Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee (D), will consider a campaign to replace him.
Obama lays off the fundraisers during debt talks.
Al Gore weighs in on the debt limit debate.
The North Carolina GOP’s redistricting proposal, which would imperil four of the state’s Democrats, passed through the state Senate.
Huntsman goes after Romney on taxes.
Arianna Huffington defends Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
Herman Cain cancels on Colbert. Thus, no Colbert Bump for him.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) counsels Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.).
“Obama takes heat on immigration” — Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal
“The skeletons in Rick Perry’s closet” — Brian Montopoli, CBS News
“On the hill, what’s happened to the art of the deal” — David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post