President Barack Obama speaks about partisanship and race Feb. 10, 2016, with colleagues from his time in the Illinois Senate. (Brian Nguyen and Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)
He had just given an hourlong speech calling for comity in politics, and President Obama craved a few moments with a few friends who remember when he was not a polarizing figure but an effectively bipartisan one – his poker buddies from his eight years here in the Illinois Senate.
The three retired state senators, two Democrats and a Republican, were still laughing about Obama’s warmly received address to the Illinois General Assembly when he joined them for an interview Wednesday with the Los Angeles Times about the legislative gridlock in Washington and his role in it.
In a freewheeling exchange, Obama said he doesn’t think that his race explains the Republican fortress against his agenda, or that having lawmakers over for drinks or to watch football every weekend would have made a difference over the last seven years.