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Obama, Boehner and McConnell: a clash awaits


We've heard from them all now. President Obama. Presumptive Speaker of the House John Boenher (R-Ohio). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). If the good cop/bad cop routine displayed by Boehner and McConnell today is any indicator the next congress is going to be a doozy, and the coming clash with the White House will be unavoidable.

Obama admitted that he and the Democratic Party suffered a "shellacking" last night as voters decided to put the car in "R" for the next two years by handing the House back to the Republicans. He was contrite and introspective. He bemoaned the isolation of the White House and how it cuts him off from the American people. And yet his words lacked the kind of warmth and connection I'm desperate for him to show. We'll soon see if he has the ability to turn that introspection into extroverted action that marries his words with palpable emotion and a clear strategy for dealing with an energized opposition.

Still, Obama's warmth and manner were infinitely better than the scold from Kentucky. McConnell played bad cop/attack dog at the press conference he and Boehner held today. After declaring that the midterm elections were a "referendum on the Obama administration and the last two years," McConnell said the Republican leadership "will agree to work with the administration when they listen to the American people." I'm going to come back to this in a moment.

But neither Obama nor McConnell could hold a candle to Boehner in the emotion department. Last night, when he talked about working hard to achieve the American dream, putting himself through school and "working every rotten job there was...and every night shift I could find," choking up the entire way, Boehner humanized himself. He went from being a faceless leader of the opposition to a real person who has worked hard to get where he stands today. Not every American can reach that plateau. But every American can relate to having dreams and knows what is required to achieve them.

At the press conference with McConnell, Boehner maintained his humble and largely conciliatory mien. He played the good cop. With Republicans now having responsibility for governing, I hope this tone leads to real progress on the problems the country faces. Which brings me back to that comment McConnell made about working with the administration "when they listen to the American people."

The Republicans run the risk of overplaying this talking point and over-interpreting last night's election results. On MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." today, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild made this very point. She said that while Republicans are right to say that this was a referendum on Obama and his agenda, they better not think that it means voters were running into GOP arms. She's right. The GOP had a 34 percent approval rating, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. That's five points lower than the newly vanquished Democrats.

By  | November 3, 2010; 3:56 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can Obama really compromise with the GOP?
Next: The NRSC's California gamble a bust


Now it's time for John Boehner to dry his tears and "man-up" to the task of governing.

Posted by: HughBriss | November 3, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

You know, that's one thing that irks me no end - when a politician speaks on behalf of the "American People". At most, Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell can speak for the districts that elected them - and even then there are those in their districts that voted against them. They have no right to expand their opinions to the country at large. These are the same arrogant back-sides that most frequently accuse Dems of being arrogant and elite. But, how arrogant do you have to be to claim to have the right and authority to speak on behalf of the American People? Pretty much the ultimate in arrogance if you ask me.

Posted by: truthwillout | November 3, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

This new tone will lead to real progress on the problems the country faces .... starting with undoing Obamacare.

Posted by: Jmacaco4 | November 3, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

"They have no right to expand their opinions to the country at large."

You mean the way Pelosi and Reid did for the past few years? The way every Speaker and Majority leader have done for over 100 years?

Do you not understand how congress works? Or are you just bitter and disillusioned?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | November 3, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

The Boner and McDumbell will make perfect punching bags for Obama as he cruises to reelection in 2012.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 4, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"will agree to work with the administration when they listen to the American people."

A bit of a double standard here. Why wasn't this statement applicable the last two years, Senator McConnell?

Posted by: meeksbay | November 4, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse


what a DUMB-bunny post! = laughing AT your SILLY opinion.

while Obama is "not the sharpest knife in the drawer", he is smart enough to see "the handwriting on the wall", which says: HILLERY 2012!

frankly, i don't think that he will run again, as he will be "about as popular as smallpox" after another two years of MISRULE, LEFTIST nitwittery, ARROGANT ignorance & "bullheadedness".

fwiw, whomever runs as the TEA PARTY/GOP candidate in 2012 will HUMILIATE the DIMocRAT nominee. = we TEA PARTIERS will never let the voters forget that they were "played for a fool" by obama & the leftist/elitist DIMocRATS in 2008.

just my opinion. = i DO NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote of the membership, on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 4, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Seniors are already making appointments for FREE checkups, effective January via Obamacare. woohoo!
I'm encouraging seniors to make those appointments in EARLY January before the Rethugs repeal it!

But they won't repeal it - it's too popular, as people learn the Facts, rather than the Fox & Frightwing radio LIES.

Mandated insurance has been a Republican idea for decades - and Boehner and McConnell aren't about to deprive the private healthcare Insurance industry of 30M more customers.
Oops! - the Tea Party was USED.

Posted by: angie12106 | November 4, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Boehner must have taken Beck's online "constitution" course by saying the president sets the agenda.
Most likely, Boehner was attempting to avoid all responsibility for future GOP failure since Congress sets the agenda.

Posted by: angie12106 | November 4, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Really, I wish that the Republicans will focus on jobs and economy. Since they think that they can do a better job I for one want to see them do it. I really hope for all of our sakes that they don't waste time trying to bring down Obama. Everyday another person loses their job. Everyday someone loses their home. They should be working on this as of yesterday.

Get to work and come up with some ideas and a plan! I want to see them working overtime.

Posted by: Princey | November 4, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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