Mendte: White House Reaches Out To GOP

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NEW YORK, NY. (KPLR) – Painting a better picture in Washington, President Obama takes a new approach since the gridlock in Washington led to billions in forced spending cuts.

Last week, the president took a dozen republicans to dinner, and will head to Capitol Hill this week to meet with both parties.

Some lawmakers view this as an olive branch, while others say this may be more about politics than pact-making.

Here's what Larry Mendte has to say.

Something wonderful happened this week in Washington.  The president and congressional republican leaders had a play date.

The president asking a whole busload of republican leaders to the white house to have lunch
and then the next day he had Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and chaperoned by Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

I know that the White House invite has been criticized by some as disingenuous détente, a photo op, more pretend than productive.

I couldn’t disagree more.

You can’t criticize the president for not reaching a hand across the aisle and then when he does you slap his hand .

And the exact reason we are in this mess of gridlock is because the two sides don’t spend enough time together.

Even when the two sides used to fight, there was a respect.
Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to famously spar during the day and then equally famously would drink and laugh together at night.

It is hard to hate somebody when you get to know them; you know who put an end to the socializing between parties.

Newt Gingrich, when he was Speaker of the House, he insisted that house members spend every moment that they weren’t in session back in their districts campaigning and fundraising.
No longer would the members of congress invite each other’s families for barbecues, go to church together, drink together.

The only time they met was in caucus, republicans with republicans, democrats with democrats,  it became tribal warfare; it’s easy to hate when you don’t know each other, it’s been that way for two decades now.

Which is why the lunches at the White House are significant, did you notice the tone has already changed, maybe now we can get some things done.