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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 11/17/2010

Senate GOP leadership flatly denies Baltimore "ambush" caused postponement of meeting

By Greg Sargent

I don't know if this will make any difference, but a spokesman for the Senate GOP leadership is flatly denying that Obama's "ambush" of Republicans in Baltimore had anything to do with the decision to postpone the big bipartisan summit that was originally set for this week.

"The meeting was scheduled for November 30th, because it didn't work this week and because that's the date that worked for everybody -- period," Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mitch McConnell, tells me.

This would seem to completely skewer a myth that's taken hold on the right today -- that Republicans rightly postponed the bipartisan meeting, which the White House had said would be this week, in reaction to Obama allegedly "ambushing" them at the House GOP retreat last February. That myth grew from a Politico story quoting a single anonymous Hill staffer claiming this was the rationale.

As disappointing as this will be to right wing media, the fact of the matter is that this "ambush" has had no real bearing on the actual thinking of Republican leaders or their aides. As TPM reported this morning, a quick look at the record shows that the whole "ambush" meme is pure B.S. to begin with. What's more, Republicans don't even believe it either: I have not been able to find a single GOP aide who actually subscribes to the "ambush" myth, either on or off the record.

In case you're not inclined to believe the GOP claim that this episode had nothing to do with the postponement in any case, it dovetails with what Robert Gibbs said today, too:

"We agreed it was inconvenient to have the meeting when it was originally happening. We moved the date."

Asked if the White House saw anything untoward in the postponement of the meeting, Gibbs said: "We don't see it that way."

This whole thing is ridiculous.

By Greg Sargent  | November 17, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Senate Republicans  
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Next: Yes, DADT repeal could still pass, Senate staffers say


"This whole thing is ridiculous."

That explains why there is bipartisan agreement.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 17, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Whatever - Obama has poisoned the entire "bipartisanship" atmosphere over the past two years.

WHAT about Obama's actions during the Fin Reg debate last spring??? There were solid constructive negotiations going on - and Obama pulled out in order to pursue a highly PARTISAN agenda.

Obama pulled out of the negotiations, and then forced a series of votes on the floor designed to make the Republicans look bad - so there it is again, Obama POISONING THE ATMOSPHERE.

Greg - please stop this ridiculous line of trying to prove something that simply is not true.

The best way forward is forward.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 17, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how one can ambush a meeting they were invited to in advance.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 17, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse


What's just as interesting as how this false meme's been picked up today is how the White House has chosen (not to) respond to the GOP's effort to limit the amount of time dems have to do anything in the lame duck session.

What the White House could have said today:

"The President had hoped the Republicans would be eager to sit down, roll up their sleeves, and get to work on an agreement on how best to ensure that middle class families across America get tax relief. He had also hoped they would be eager to sit down and figure out a way to ensure that those millions of Americans who are looking for work and can't find it, can still put food on the table. But rather than doing the work that the American people sent us here to do, the Republicans now say they are simply too busy to do anything. While the Republicans might be comfortable putting off what we could do today to help get this economy turned around, the President is not."

What they said instead:


Gibbs on GOP meeting: 'Bipartisanship has happened'

From NBC's Mike Viqueira

The so-dubbed “Slurpee Summit” between Republican leaders and President Barack Obama may have been postponed, but the White House is going out of its way to say that the rescheduling isn’t due to frosty relations between the two parties.

In today’s White House briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs went out of his way to play down any conflict with GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican leader John Boehner over the rescheduling of the meeting, which was originally planned for Thursday. The meeting is intended to address issues that Congress will take up during its lame duck session – including the possible extension of the Bush tax cuts.

"Bipartisanship has happened," Gibbs said of the meeting.

The fact that GOP leaders and the White House were able to agree on a new date – November 30 -- is a sign of cooperation, he said.

"We're flexible. We're ready to sit down tomorrow, or on the 30th," he said.


Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Posted by: pollibido | November 17, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Rahm Emanuel may have real serious problems in Chicago

From an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune:

election officials twice sent notices to Emanuel's house on Hermitage Avenue .

Both times, the notices were returned to sender. Each was stamped with Emanuel's forwarding address in Washington . Election officials do not allow such notices to be forwarded to a new address. The election board purged Emanuel from the voting lists for the first time in October 2009, ruling him an "inactive" voter.


All I can say is WOW

If the election board sent out notices, and twice they were returned, Rahm has a problem.


Apparently two different addresses where he did not live.

Wow - Rahm may have broken the law JUST BY VOTING TWICE.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 17, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

From this point forward, anyone who believes anything a Republican says is a brain-dead moron.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 17, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

And in the limited time they have, the House is --

During floor proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning at approximately 3:30 p.m. today, members of Congress will take up the question of the President's "pocket veto" of H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010.
A "yes" vote would override the President's veto of legislation that would have legitimized thousands of faulty and fraudulent bank documents for churning foreclosures to unlawfully deprive Americans of their homes. A "nay" vote would sustain the veto and protect consumers.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse


The reason there is no "bipartisan agreement" is precisely because of articles like this from the left.

You treat "bipartisanship" like it is a weapon to be used against the Republicans.

AND you treat "bipartisanship" not as voluntary negotiations, but as something you can BULLY the Republicans into.

Just like Obama's attitude with Grassley -

Did Obama say, "Yea, I think you are right Grassley, I should be talking to the Republican leadership for a compromise"

NO, Obama and the liberals acted like they were entitled to something from Grassley

Obama was told to "take a hike" RIGHTLY


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 17, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

How can anyone respect the right?

Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association, was unhappy yesterday that President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a soldier for saving lives. This, Fischer wrote on his blog, shows that the Medal of Honor has been "feminized" because "we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them."

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

pragmatic.............WHY? Are they really so stupid that they think we won't find out? I'm getting really tired of this sh.. This is seriously just about as close as I've ever been to giving up on politics.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 17, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, believe that the Baltimore pistol-whipping last year isn't the primary motivation for delaying their meeting with Obama. It's because they are setting a tone for how the next two years is going to go - work slowly or not at all on important issues, swarm like flies on poo poo to investigate ACORN or climate scientists.

Posted by: klautsack | November 17, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

From this point forward, anyone who believes anything a Republican says is a brain-dead moron.


I thought that was the case since Bush made his little joke about not being able to find the WMD.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 17, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"This whole thing is ridiculous."

Not only is this latest right-wing myth ridiculous, but it indisputably shows that Republicans DON'T CARE about being exposed as fools.

It is just another in a long long line of "myths" that the Right Wing lives by.

And again, all the hand-wringing over something that is FALSE shows yet again that the Right truly doesn't care at all about looking foolish. They don't care about being wrong on the facts. And they don't care if they look stupid in the process.

It's sad, but what's even worse is that they can get away with it because the U.S. media is pathetic and fails in its job on a daily basis.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 17, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse


The AP has called the Alaska Senate race for Murkowski.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 17, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Incredible, isn't it lms? And this is with Pelosi still Speaker and the Dems solidly in the majority. Is there a point to be made? Something I am missing on this one?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

It is not BS

Obama has poisoned the atmosphere over 2 years. There has to be an atmosphere of trust for bipartisanship.

The democrats try to use bipartisanship as a weapon against the Republicans. It doesn't work that way.

Obama and the democrats INCLUDING GREG SARGENT only have themselves to blame.

Greg - YOU are part of the problem, not part of the solution.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 17, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Or is it really true that the bankers run the place?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse


Pretty close, dont you think?

Otherwise they would have all been bankrupt and the economy would now be on a firm footing.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 17, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The stupid never ends from you SaveRed. Please leave me alone you freaking ret@rd

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

All, this is a big deal, DADT repeal NOT dead:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 17, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know how one can ambush a meeting they were invited to in advance. "

Yeah, that was too tough a puzzle for Josh Marshall, too.

Based on a quick survey of the Times coverage from January 2010, Obama did accept the invitation to appear several weeks in advance, as Josh noted.

What Josh couldn't seem to uncover is that "the ambush" was in the White House request for unprecedented live television coverage, made the night before the event. Republicans only agreed to that on the day of the event, and didn't have time to marshal their stagecraft.

From the Times:

"For Mr. Obama, the lion’s-den strategy of addressing a Republican audience reinforced his effort in the State of the Union address this week to reclaim a more bipartisan image and reach out to disaffected independents. Although he and other presidents have addressed opposition caucuses before, they usually close the doors for questions, but this time the White House insisted on letting the news media record the give and take.

That worked to his benefit as he took advantage of the staging that comes with being president. He commanded the lectern with the presidential seal and the camera was trained mainly on him, while his interlocutors were forced to look up to him from the audience. Moreover, Mr. Obama gave long, confident and informed answers and felt free to interrupt questioners, while it is typically harder for others to interrupt a president."

And a bit more:

"Traditionally at annual party retreats, the president gives a short speech that is open to the public and media, then the doors are shut for a more candid question-and-answer session. Republicans said they initially did not ask the White House if the president’s entire appearance could be public since they did not expect it would consent.

But late Thursday [for a Friday event], the White House asked if the exchange with the lawmakers could be televised. Republicans decided this morning that they would allow media coverage, rather than be portrayed as wanting to keep the session private since they have been promoting themselves as advocates of government transparency."

This explanation hardly paints Republicans as the Party of Bright Lights (and I can see why they wouldn't 'fess up now), but it does explain why they would want to have all the ground rules worked out well in advance before meeting with Obama.

And let me mock Gibbs and Sargent for a moment:

"Asked if the White House saw anything untoward in the postponement of the meeting, Gibbs said: "We don't see it that way."

I'm begging for a break - does Sargent, or anyone, really expect Gibbs to stand up at the lectern and admit that the Republican leadership flipped off his boss?

The face-saving denial was inevitable, regardless of the facts.

Posted by: tom_maguire | November 17, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Since when does a Republican let the facts get in the way of a good story? Reality be d@mned, right tom? The President of the United States ambushed the Republicans in Congress by answering their questions with the country watching.

How dare him!?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 17, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

From this point forward, anyone who believes anything a Republican says is a brain-dead moron.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 17, 2010 3:04 PM |
Now let's be honest here,anyone who believes anything a Republican or a Democrat says is a brain-dead moron.
Keep it straight just for the record.

Posted by: jhnjdy | November 17, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

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