Obama Vows To Shmooze More With GOP

Prez Admits He's Too Boring for Sasha and Malia

Can We Talk? President Obama says he wants to spend more time hanging out with Republicans, even if they still think he’s a big-spending socialist at heart.
getty images
Can We Talk? President Obama says he wants to spend more time hanging out with Republicans, even if they still think he’s a big-spending socialist at heart.

By Reuters

Published January 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Would more partying and backslapping between Washington’s political opponents narrow the bitter partisan divide? President Barack Obama is willing to try, but is not sure it will work.

At a news conference on Monday, Obama grudgingly acknowledged that he could do more to improve personal relationships with Republican members of Congress and vowed more socializing in his second term, which starts in a week.

“I’m a pretty friendly guy, and I like a good party,” he said.

Obama has drawn criticism during his first four years in office for taking an above-the-fray approach that has baffled even some members of his own Democratic Party and given him a reputation for aloofness.

If his second term is to be a success, Obama may well need to break down some partisan barriers as he seeks to prevent a fresh debt crisis and gain congressional approval of legislation overhauling gun laws and immigration policies.

But so far he has signaled a more confrontational approach, insisting he has made plenty of concessions toward Republicans already and that since he was re-elected in November, he should get his way.

On Monday, Obama’s last news conference of his first term was sober and serious until the issue of his socializing came up.

It can be hard to take, he said, when he has his opponents to the White House for an event and they smile and pose for photos with him and his wife, Michelle, then they return to the Capitol and denounce him as a “big-spending socialist.”

“I promise you, we invite folks from Congress over here all the time. And when they choose to come, I enjoy their company. Sometimes they don’t choose to come, and that has to do with the fact that I think they don’t consider the optics useful for them politically,” he said.

A ROUND WITH BOEHNER

During a major budget crisis in 2011, Obama famously invited House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner out for a round of golf. Vice President Joe Biden went too. Things seemed to have gone well, but there was never a second round and the budget talks descended into acrimony.

In December, the Republican leader declined to appear in a receiving line for a photo with Obama at a White House holiday reception, at the height of a showdown over tax cuts and spending.

“I like Speaker Boehner personally. And when we went out and played golf, we had a great time. But that didn’t get a deal done in 2011. You know when I’m over here at the congressional picnic, and folks are coming up and taking pictures with their family, I promise you, Michelle and I are very nice to them, and we have a wonderful time.

“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 bottom line, he said, is that policy differences will exist whether there is a personal relationship or not.

But there may be more time for socializing, he said, because daughters Malia and Sasha are getting older and “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,” he said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.