Q: How can Obama be the president you want him to be when he’s facing this Republican Congress?
A: I’ll put it this way, brother: You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it. If you’re just going to reflect it and run by the polls, then you’re not going to be a transformative president. Lincoln was a thermostat. Johnson and F.D.R., too.
— Talk Interview with Cornell West, NYT Mag
To the extent Obama has co-opted the GOP agenda to make it look to the voters that he, not the right wing budget slashers, is the flavor of the month, this photo bears out the result.
In Washington right now, the problem has been that there hasn’t been enough difference between the two sides to generate true creative tension or to force real horse trading with either the attendant poker faces or the more kinetic and animated looks that come with true leverage and real tactics to employ.
So what we’re left with is these two similar and phenomenally sorry photos from Saturday morning, an embarrassment to the American people for offering us not much more than haplessness and spit.
On the left, the most sour-looking Boehner could be mistaken for the poster boy for “the party of no.” But then, Boehner, who really wants a deal, seems as much disgusted for being forced to show up for the token hour, and the photo-op, when the latest deal exploded in acrimony the day before.
Obama, on the other hand, offers up the most sanctimonious look, the “High School play” version of “what do I have to do?” broadcasting how much he’s ready-and-willing — sitting there with his pen and pad — to give these guys most of what they’ve asked for.
(photo 1: Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images. caption: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (L) in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Yesterday Boehner left debt negotiation talks with the Obama Administration, but accepted an invitation to meet with Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-AZ) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) today.)
(photo 2: AFP Photo/Jewel Samad.)