Speaker John Boehner called it “a very nice lunch,” and sounded optimistic notes on finding “common ground.” Rep. Kevin McCarthy, another member of the GOP leadership, spoke of looking to places “where we can work together.” Rep. Eric Cantor praised “the need for all of us to work together.”
That was the news coming out of Wednesday’s lunch between Republican leaders in the House and President Barack Obama: We can get along, even if we don’t agree. “He thought it was very constructive,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about Obama’s reaction. “They agreed on cutting spending and reducing our deficit.”
Don’t worry. Obama still disagrees with the House Republican leadership, and the House Republican leadership still disagrees with Obama. In a matter of days, we should see a full blown battle over just what spending gets cut and what approaches are taken to reduce the deficit. Republicans are still trying to repeal health care reform, and Obama is still proposing new spending–high speed rail, for instance–that makes Republican skin crawl.
But it can be recorded in the record books: As of February 9, 2011, months after the midterm elections, the bipartisan comity that was so lacking for the first two years of the Obama Administration still dominates. Both sides disagree without being disagreeable. Both sides are desperately trying to show voters that they are ready and able to work together.