Obama, Boehner Tee Off

Posted by BBC News on Jun 18th, 2011 and filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner may be at odds over taxes, the debt ceiling and the turmoil in Libya, but for today at least, they are putting away their differences for a golf performance.

The game, at Joint Base Andrews’ golf course in Maryland, will give both the men four hours to socialize — with or without conversation of the last week’s tense negotiations. Both men play regularly, but Boehner is known as one of Capital Hill’s best golfers. Boehner was ranked 43rd among 150 prominent Washington players, while Obama is 108th.

But golf isn’t only a competition, it’s also an opportunity to socialize.

“Four hours is a lot to know a lot in relation to somebody. It builds companionship, you build a connection,” golf pro Ed Collins said.

The two men definitely have a lot to express. In the last week, the White House and Boehner have questioned budget cuts and the conflict in Libya, which the U.S. military is included in without congressional permission.

They have got a difference of views in regards to the game itself.

“The president sees golf as a way to escape Washington, and Speaker Boehner sees golf within the politics of Washington. It’s how you would raise money, it’s how you get business done. And the president doesn’t see golf that way,” ABC News political director Amy Walter said.

“At best, it’s a great photo op,” Walter said. “I doubt anything really substantive is developed of it. … It can be an opportunity for two people from Washington to prove that Washington can actually get along.”

Boehner invited a fellow Ohio Republican, Gov. John Kasich, to play, and Obama brought Vice President Biden. Obama and Boehner are riding in a cart together, and Biden and Kasich in another.

In another sign of bipartisanship, the White House trip director Marvin Nicholson is riding in a cart with the Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck.

In a recent interview with ABC New’s George Stephanopoulos, Boehner did not sound convinced that he and the president would be able to settle any kind of an agreement in 18 holes.

“We’ve always had — an excellent relationship,” Boehner said. “We get along — get along fine. But we have very different ideas for what America should look like and what the role of the federal government needs to be.”

When asked if he thought they would come to an understanding any time soon, he said, “Well, no — if the president invites me to play golf, it’s the president. You don’t say no to the president.”

The White House described the event as a social outing, but it did not deny that it could have political implications.

“I think I can say with great confidence that they will not wrap up the 18th hole and come out and say that we have a deal,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told journalists this week.

“I think that for the broader function of the work that needs to be carried out in a bipartisan way in Washington, this social occasion is a good thing, because … spending several hours together in that kind of atmosphere, I think, can only help improve the chances of bipartisan cooperation,” Carney said. “It certainly can’t hurt it, unless someone wins really big.”

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