Politico reports that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have the frostiest POTUS-Speaker relationship in memory.
They used to speak well of each other publicly. Not any longer.
The looming federal budget crisis known as “sequestration” has created strains that are threatening to unhinge the government, or at least significant portions of it.
Who’s to blame? And should these two men be drinking buddies?
The recent gold standard for this kind of “bromance” rests with the legacy of Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. They would say some very mean things about each other in public. But when no one was looking, they would laugh if off. Legend has it that the two Irishmen would sip an adult beverage at an undisclosed location – before preparing for the next day’s battle.
That’s not happening now.
I’ve read that Boehner in “real life” is a pretty affable guy. But when faced with the constant threat of rebellion among members of the tea party wing of his Republican House members, he has to put on a different face publicly. Thus, it might said that we’re seeing an “inauthentic” House speaker.
As for President Obama, I’ll defer to a friend of mine, who’s a leading educator in Amarillo and an avowed Democrat. He told me once over lunch that Obama’s problem is that he isn’t a dealmaker in the mold of a legendary Texan, the late President Lyndon Johnson. LBJ had a knack for cajoling his fellow Democratic colleagues and browbeating balky Republicans. But he somehow managed to maintain bipartisan friendships. Obama’s not wired that way, according to my friend. He keeps fairly close counsel and doesn’t rely too heavily on the advice of outsiders.
And therein might lie the basis for the Obama-Boehner rift that at this moment has gotten in the way of a deal being struck to avoid the massive automatic budget cuts that might threaten the nation’s economic well-being.
Come on, guys. Make up and strike a deal.