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Congress: Frustrations boil over

The New York Times on Obama's meeting yesterday with Senate Republicans: "By nearly all accounts, pent-up frustrations boiled over as the president and the very lawmakers who have consistently opposed much of his agenda engaged in spirited and at times confrontational exchanges over immigration, spending, White House tactics and other issues during a private 75-minute session."

"Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama's former presidential rival, lashed out at the administration for its portrayal of the new immigration law in his home state of Arizona. And Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee suggested that the administration had been less than sincere in trying to seek a bipartisan deal on the financial regulatory overhaul, which was passed last week with just four Republican votes." 

Roll Call's headline on the meeting: "Republican Senators Call Obama Insulated, Aloof." Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the NRSC, alleged, "It's clear that he is relying on other people for the information and the positions that are being taken with regard to legislation on the floor, and I would say it appeared to be he was somewhat insulated from what actually is going on."

Republicans did not react well to Obama's meeting with them yesterday. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): "He needs to take a Valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans. He's pretty thin-skinned."

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) "described the meeting as 'testy,' and fellow GOP Senator John Thune of South Dakota called it a 'lively discussion.'"

Sen. Bob Corker accused the president of "duplicity": "I've always found it's good to be frank. If you have an opportunity to talk to someone, you should talk about what's on your mind," Corker said, but "he questioned 'the audacity' of Obama's asking for Republican help after bipartisan talks on financial reform broke down and his landmark health-care bill passed solely on Democratic votes. 'My question is again: How can you reconcile that duplicity?' Corker said."

The president's response: "We had a good, frank discussion on a whole range of issues."