The president personally picked up the tab for the private dinner at the Jefferson Hotel, and the guests were all Republican senators, including
Coming out of hotel after the two-hour meal, the senators had nothing but nice things to say about the gathering. Most of the dinner discussion was about the deficit and budget issues, one unidentified senator told
This week, Mr. Obama is scheduled to have lunch at the capitol with more
Personal contact has always been essential to getting things done in Washington and is even more important when governmental power is divided. In the 1980s,
Criticized for the failure to come up with a budget bargain before automatic across-the-board budget cuts kicked in, President Obama said in a recent press conference that he is "not a dictator" and cannot just force Congress to do his bidding. If not a dictator, neither has he proven to be a savvy, hands-on politician in the style of Lyndon
Can hosting a dinner or showing up for lunch with Republicans do that much to soften the hard line they have taken on raising taxes on the rich or tampering with the wide open market for firearms? It seems unlikely. On the other hand, at least some Republican lawmakers may have grown weary of appeasing the most vociferous loudmouths in their party. They may actually want to start governing again, too.
Disillusioned voters have run out of patience with elected officials in both parties who claim to speak for the American people but who have proven incapable of sitting down and speaking to each other. Mr. Obama's dinner diplomacy is a very small but positive sign that do-nothing politicians may at last be ready to do something.