One sign of President Obama’s mini-political surge: Congressional Republicans’ new willingness to signal compromise on jobs and energy legislation.
A recent lunch between Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggests the “party of no” is moving to “maybe.” Republican leaders are hedging their bets. They are looking at the train wreck of their presidential primaries and the president’s rising approval ratings and starting to consider saving their own skins. They know that their refusal to work with Obama doesn’t play nearly as well as he gains strength. In fact, if the economy and Obama continue to recover, the Democrats will have a unified national message, something rare in presidential election cycles. Democrats can argue, credibly, that they have made progress despite the best efforts of Republicans to sabotage it.
There may be no better bellwether of the president’s political prospects than McConnell. If he is even talking compromise, that’s a leading indicator. He once said the Republican mission was to bring the president down; his real mission has always been something else: to save himself and his allies in Congress. This tentative step to détente is fragile and will turn on the first dip in the president’s polls. But it’s kind of fun to watch.