President Obama will apparently continue to avoid human contact with Capitol Hill to a far greater degree than his predecessors, viewing phone calls and speeches to those outside Washington as better ways to press his positions.
While both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton relished schmoozing with their Congressional counterparts and met regularly with leaders of Congress – as well as backbenchers – from both Parties, Obama rarely gets together even with top Democrats.
When both Bush and Clinton were in the Oval Office, lawmakers could regularly be seen streaming up the West Wing driveway to meet them. Not so for Obama.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Monday suggested the practice would continue:
I think that the reality of modern-day Washington is a little different than it was in 1801, to use a timely example. And so the notion that you can solve all problems over a cocktail I think is a little overrated . . . I know there’s a school of thought that imagines that meetings are the sole way to accomplish a deal.
Obama has met only once with Republican leaders since being reelected three weeks ago and has no public plans for specific future gatherings, even as desperate talks to avoid the “fiscal cliff” continue.
Meanwhile, he’s been golfing twice since the election.
Obama barely met with Congressional leaders at all for much of 2012, preferring to concentrate on getting reelected instead of trying to avoid a last minute crunch to avoid the fiscal cliff’s massive spending cuts.
Carney said Obama spoke by phone over the weekend with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and added that the president does anticipate further meetings “at the appropriate time.”