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Barack Obama: why he's inviting Boehner and friends to White House

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Charles Dharapak/AP

(Read caption) President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters after meeting with his staff and Cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, on Nov. 4.

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President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he’s inviting Republican and Democratic congressional leaders over to his place (that’s the White House) on Nov. 18 for talks.

Why does he want to host such a meeting so soon after bruising losses in the 2010 midterm elections? Because he’s trying to prove that he’s still relevant.

By taking the initiative and announcing this tentative get-together for the first week of the congressional lame-duck session, Mr. Obama has a chance to at least appear to be still driving Washington’s policy agenda. The president told reporters Thursday that he wants discussion to focus on the economy, tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and passage of a new nuclear-arms treaty with Russia.

“This is going to be a meeting in which I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people’s agenda forward,” said Obama. “It’s not just going to be a photo op. Hopefully, it may spill over into dinner.”

Obama also announced that he’s invited newly elected Republican and Democratic governors to the White House for a Dec. 2 get-acquainted meeting. So in general, the president is doing his best to act the role of national paterfamilias, apparently.

Presumptive House Speaker John Boehner has been getting a lot of attention in the past couple of days, so maybe the White House is trying to regain the spotlight. Presidents can be touchy that way. Remember what Bill Clinton ended up doing after he and his party got body-slammed in the 1994 midterms?


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