It was the love affair that could never be, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans.
The two sides came together en masse Tuesday for the first time since Obama took the oath of office. Despite the niceties, both sides walked away spurned.
In many ways, Obama told the assembled Republicans everything they would want to hear, according to people in the meetings.
He promised to make tough spending choices in his first budget blueprint — “everyone will have to take a haircut,” he said. He told them he wouldn’t increase the size of government just to increase the size of government. He even teased House Minority Leader John A. Boehner about his golf swing.
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Likewise, Republicans left the meeting with kind words for the president — but still resolved to oppose him on the floor Wednesday when Democrats bring his massive economic stimulus plan up for a vote.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Beneath the polite give and take between the new president and the newly disempowered Republican caucus, there was a sense that Obama’s honeymoon had already begun to ebb. For the first time, it seems, congressional Republicans, shut out of power and seemingly cowed by the harsh verdict of voters and wild popularity of the new president, are finding their voice, rallying in large numbers against the centerpiece of Obama’s agenda.