Having apparently given up on charm, golf and persuasion, President Obama on Wednesday went for taunting sarcasm in his long-fruitless attempt to persuade Republicans to work with him.
In a campaign-style speech in Kansas City, Mo., a loose and grinning Obama ribbed his political opponents as “mad all the time” and told them to “stop just hating all the time.”
The president at one point tried for dry understatement, but couldn’t deliver the lines without cracking himself up at the podium. “They haven’t been that helpful,” he said, laughing. “They have not been as constructive as I would have hoped.”
The talk was an extended version of a riff Obama has repeated in several recent speeches. As he tries to drum up Democratic enthusiasm ahead of the midterm elections, Obama is casting his opponents as almost misguided children.
They’re singularly focused on opposing him, rather than boosting the economy, he said. While he works to build infrastructure and improve health care, Republicans prepare to file a lawsuit accusing him of executive overreach, he added.
The president even made fun of Republicans for agreeing with him, recalling a recent bill signing when both Republicans and Democrats showed up at the ceremony.
“And everybody was all pleased,” he said, laughing. “They were all in their suits. And I said, ‘Doesn’t this feel good? You know, we’re doing something. It’s, like, useful.’ … It was really nice. I said, ‘Let’s do this again.’ ”
“I know they’re not that happy that I’m president, but that’s OK. I’ve only got a couple years left,” he said. “Then you can be mad at the next president.”
The comments aren’t going to win any new friends on the Hill, but it’s clear the White House isn’t trying. Obama spoke as lawmakers wrapped up final business and prepared to head out for their August recess -- the unofficial start of the high campaign season. The president is already there.
When boos interrupted his speech Wednesday, Obama pulled out a line from his last campaign: “Do not boo. Vote!”