Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), always currying favor with the press, made sure when he criticized Barack Obama he also ladled praise on him, calling Obama the smartest man in the room when recalling the series of dinners last year between Obama and GOP senators. Speaking with Time magazine, McCain said:
I thought when he had a couple of dinners with Republican senators, we really had a good environment there. Because he is a very, very articulate and attractive guy in a setting with eight or nine senators and him. Because he was smarter than the rest of us. But I don’t see that now. I don’t see any of that.
McCain also said, “There are some things that he could find that we could do on a bipartisan basis, and that may not be his top agenda items, but he’s got to do more outreach.”
Those dinners were termed a success at the time by press secretary Jay Carney, who said the White House was encouraged and what “seemed to be sincere interest in avoiding constant crisis, sincere interest expressed by the participants in the dinner.” He added that Obama said one of the meals was “very constructive and very pleasant.”
But after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met with Carney last week, and following Obama’s recent pronouncements of his intention to use executive actions to bypass Congress, Carney said it was “a press misconception that the success or failure of legislation in Congress depends on the relationship between a president and a Speaker or a president and a leader in Congress.”
Last Friday, Obama told a Democratic National Committee winter meeting threatened:
I’ve said I want to work with Congress wherever I can, and there are places where the parties can work together to get things done. But I’ve also said and shown that in this year of action, wherever I can act on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans, I will. Now, me saying that, that I’m going to go ahead and do things to help middle-class families, has gotten Republicans in Congress all stirred up — as if they’d prefer to do nothing. But we’re going to keep moving forward on the agenda the American people elected us to move forward on.