Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 17, 2010

A DELAY IN THE WHITE HOUSE'S BIPARTISAN CONFAB.... President Obama had scheduled a gathering at the White House for this week, featuring the leaders of both parties in both chambers. Yesterday, the meeting some reporters are calling the "Slurpee Summit" was postponed until Nov. 30, with congressional Republicans citing scheduling difficulties.

That, at face value, wouldn't be especially interesting. Meetings in D.C. get delayed all the time. But Politico reported last night that the postponement is the result of still more petty nonsense.

The roots of the partisan standoff that led to the postponement of the bipartisan White House summit scheduled for Thursday date back to January, when President Barack Obama crashed a GOP meeting in Baltimore to deliver a humiliating rebuke of House Republicans.

Obama's last-minute decision to address the House GOP retreat -- and the one-sided televised presidential lecture many Republicans decried as a political ambush -- has left a lingering distrust of Obama invitations and a wariness about accommodating every scheduling request emanating from the West Wing, aides tell POLITICO.

"He has a ways to go to rebuild the trust," said a top Republican Hill staffer. "The Baltimore thing was unbelievable. There were [House Republicans] who only knew Obama was coming when they saw Secret Service guys scouting out the place."

Now, the Politico piece has since been republished with a different lede, not because Republicans changed their story, but because the reporter realized the GOP version of events was demonstrably false.

Regardless, it's worth appreciating how bizarre this is. In January, House Republican leaders extended an invitation to the president, and he accepted. The arrangements were made weeks in advance, and Obama showed up on time, as expected. That Republicans would characterize this as a "last-minute decision" to "crash" their gathering suggests GOP officials have suffered some kind of head trauma. That Politico published their plainly untrue version of events without checking isn't much better.

But putting aside the fact that GOP memories have manufactured imaginary developments, what on earth does this have to do with the discussion scheduled for this week? Mitch McConnell postponed a meeting in November because the president made House Republicans look foolish in January?

At some point, it'd be great if the GOP leadership realized that Congress is not a junior high's student government.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

It sounds to me like the real story here is about some really shoddy reporting, and failing to check basic facts. Which, really, is why I never, ever rely on Politico for my political news if I can at all help it.

Posted by: weboy on November 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

It's truly Orwellian how Republicans lie. It reminds me of the way Bush said - 3 times - that we had to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn't let the UN weapons inspectors back in the country.

Posted by: Speed on November 17, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I knew a lot of Politico's work was stenography, not journalism, but this one really takes the cake.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on November 17, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

People who consider Obama to be spineless need to look back at that January meeting - it was a pretty gutsy move for the President, and he landed quite a few blows, which, as hinted at in the Politico article, still sting.

Posted by: delNorte on November 17, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

"...Congress is not a junior high's student government."

Quite true. Most junior high student governments are repositories of high-minded pursuit of prudent policies when compared to the clown car that is our legislative branch.

Posted by: Katie on November 17, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of junior high. . .

Bullies detect their prey with unerring accuracy, and once the quarry refuses to fight back, he is doomed to forever be a victim.

It might have started with the shout of, "You Lie!"

Posted by: DAY on November 17, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

There must be some stories where Republicans aren't acting like complete dicks. Maybe one where a staffer for a Republican congressman calls SSA to check on the benefit status of a constituent. If so, we could highlight this good behavior with a story to suggest how government ought to work. So, instead of a steady diet of What the Assholes are Doing Today, there would be the palate-cleansing sorbet of Republicans Behaving Well.

Posted by: walt on November 17, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

walt,
Good luck with that search for Republicans "behaving well."
Methinks you'd sooner find a Unicorn on the interstate.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 17, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry Steve Congress WILL NEVER start acting like anything other than the spoiled, mostly rich, arrogant little shits that comprise basically the entire GOP and a lot of Dems also. It seems to me that as long as our elections are nothing more than auctions controlled by the rich and corporations we the people will always be the poor suckers whose lives are ruined by these bloodsuckers.

Posted by: Chris on November 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the GOP's problem: Obama "deliver[ed] a humiliating rebuke of House Republicans." At their own retreat. I have a sneaking feeling that if he showed up to kiss their asses, they'd have little trouble accommodating him.

This is also cute: "one-sided televised presidential lecture." Of course, there's only one president, and his gutsy comments were much more newsworthy than the GOP confab in itself.

The GOP just doesn't want to give Obama opportunities to appear bold, articulate, confident and all that i.e. presidential. Their response to the January retreat proves that they think he appeared presidential, and they appeared weak. Pardon my stating the obvious.

Posted by: CRA on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Very bad reporting -- even the revision. The revised version has a correction tacked on to the end of the story saying that Obama was invited and the decision to broadcast the event was made at the last minute. If the reporter messed up the story on his own, he should admit to it. If his sources fed him a lot of bs, that should be pointed out. The revised version no longer makes any sense following the headline. What is it the Repubs don't trust about Obama -- that he makes them look like fools? And what was "one-sided" about the broadcast? The Repubs were not edited out of the broadcast. It was done live and the Repubs were allowed to ask anything they wanted and do follow-ups as I remember. The only thing one-sided about the event was that it was clear the intelligence was only on one side.

Posted by: MW on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

At some point, it'd be great if the GOP leadership realized that Congress is not a junior high's student government.

And who is going to make them realize it? The Dems? JrHS politics is working very well for the Repubs, so why should they change?

Posted by: martin on November 17, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Also, about the postponement: it strikes me as fairly transparent that Republicans have decided that Democrats will be desperate, by 11/30, to accept a tax cut deal on their terms. More drinks, anyone?

Posted by: weboy on November 17, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

"People who consider Obama to be spineless need to look back at that January meeting - it was a pretty gutsy move for the President, and he landed quite a few blows, which, as hinted at in the Politico article, still sting." - delnorte

Unfortunately, that event has proven to be the exception, and not the rule, with the Obama administration.

You cannot have "bipartisan" gatherings when one side will not act in good faith.

It's time to debate the issues forcefully, provide a stark contrast, and force voters to make a decision.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 17, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Is anyone else getting flashbacks to the West Wing episode were President Bartlet tries to meet with Republicans but they keep him waiting in the hall?

Do Republicans really think refusing to meet with the President is a good political strategy?

Posted by: PhillyCooke on November 17, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

@PhillyCooke, yes, I've had that flashback. In the West Wing episode, Bartlet is waiting in the hallway of the Capitol, with the press. That is, he turned it to his advantage by exposing the disrespect the Repubs were treating the Presidency.

Obama isn't going to take that advantage.

Posted by: jpeckjr on November 17, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP gets away with this shit because the press repeats their lies. I'm becoming more and more convinced that our political problems are primarily a media problem. Until we figure out what to do about the press, this will never ever end.

One idea? Dem leaders should bitch and complain about the press every time they get on television. For example, I watched CNN this morning and saw 15 minutes of coverage about Kate Middleton (Why do I know her name?) and zero minutes of coverage about Jon Kyle and the START treaty.

Posted by: Chris on November 17, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

You cannot have "bipartisan" gatherings when one side will not act in good faith.

It's time to debate the issues forcefully, provide a stark contrast, and force voters to make a decision.

Um, bdop4, we did that... and Democrats lost 60+ seats in the House.

Posted by: weboy on November 17, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite part of this mess is actually the comments at Politico. They write yet another unfounded hatchet job on Obama and half the comments are accusing Politico of being in the tank for Obama. I don't think Politico readers have very good reading comprehension.

Posted by: politicofan420 on November 17, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hold the meeting, invite reporters and TV cameras in, discuss what can be done to solve some of the problems facing the country, and let the Republican seats be empty. Dramatize just how petty they are and just how little they care about actually working to find solutions. Call it a "bipartisan summit" and when one party doesn't show up, well, it's their choice. Even consider some Republican proposals, e.g. from their 2008 platform (cap and trade, anyone?), to maintain the "bipartisan" spirit.

If a biology teacher can figure out strategy, why can't the Democratic 'brain trust?"

Posted by: seriously on November 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Bullies detect their prey with unerring accuracy, and once the quarry refuses to fight back, he is doomed to forever be a victim.

It might have started with the shout of, "You Lie!""

You do realize that that was an embarrassment for them, right? And that Wilson got a lot of flack for what he did and apologized publicly and to the Whitehouse?

Not long after the speech ended, Wilson issued an apology. "This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," he said. "While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility." Wilson also called the White House to apologize.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/09/joe-wilson-apologizes-for_n_281541.html

Wow. What a bully!

It's troubling when Republicans revise history to make it fit their narrative. But it's mindboggling when liberals do it in order to make Democrats seem weak.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Weboy,

Do you honestly believe the Democrats forced a real debate on the issues leading up to the November election?

Mostly, I saw a lot of Dems running away from the issues. We should have exposed deficit reduction as the bullshit strawman it is and proposed real plans to either put people back to work or in school to gain marketable skills. If Dems would propose a bold plan that positively impacts voters NOW, they would get a lot more attention.

You may be happy about how the Democratic leadership approached this past election, but I'm not.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 17, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, it's Newt and the MM's on Air Force One all over again. The GOP are BABIES, but their spin is really really good. There WAS compromise extending from the WH but every single time Obama crashed, didn't give them enough time, etc. etc. WAKE UP AMERICA! You're being played.

Posted by: SYSPROG on November 17, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

The ignorance and the inability of republicans to support their rabid ideology is Obama's fault. Their failed attempt to put Obama down or embarrass him backfired to the point of making them look like idiots...but it's all Obama's fault...he was sneaky enough to have answers and solutions...shame on him.

Republicans cannot own up to anything even when proven wrong. They suffer from "blame damage". Whenever they are wrong it's your fault.

I wish the video or audio of the last minutes of that meeting were on every station everyday because it points out clearly just how ignorant these know-nothing republicans clearly are and Obama didn't use a teleprompter or bring notes to make them look like fools...republicans are not used to being challenged on their bogus talking points, but they got schooled on that day huh.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 17, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush tax cuts expire Dec. 31 and the Republicans just ate up two weeks of time. The game they are playing is called Chicken.

Posted by: Seould on November 17, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK


"That Republicans would characterize this as a "last-minute decision" to "crash" their gathering suggests GOP officials have suffered some kind of head trauma."

Having dealt with severe head trauma in a family member, I think you do a disservice to traumatic brain injury victims when you equate them with this current crop of post-modern Republicans. The present GOP seems to be mainly composed of two-year-olds and inept clowns.

Posted by: Crusty the Clown on November 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

The suggestion by seriously @ 10:33 AM to just go ahead and hold the meeting in a live broadcast is the best one I've heard. It places no blame, yet allows everyone to see just who is, and isn't, taking governing seriously. I mean, WE know the Republicans don't DO governing (power trips are another matter...), but most of the country has yet to learn that.
I don't think it will be an enjoyable experience for them...

Posted by: Doug on November 17, 2010 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK
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