Obama: a deal ‘is in sight, but it’s not done’


President Obama spoke briefly to supporters at the White House this afternoon, offering an update on the state of fiscal talks, stressing that a deal “is in sight, but it’s not done.” He added, “They’re close, but they’re not there yet.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the brief remarks was the Republican apoplexy that followed. Apparently, the president’s tone hurt GOP lawmakers’ feelings – so much so that many Republicans are now arguing that a fiscal agreement may fail because Obama made them feel bad.

Seriously. That’s what they’re saying. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on the Senate floor that the president’s tone represented “heckling,” and as a consequence, he “lost some votes” for a compromise deal. Soon after, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also said Obama was too mean and made Congress feel bad.

Just when you thought watching Congress couldn’t be any more painful, lawmakers find a way to make the institution look a little worse.

I’d note for historical context that there’s a precedent for congressional Republicans ignoring national interests because of a perceived personal slight. In 1995, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he shut down the government in part because then-President Clinton hurt his feelings by making him use a back exit to Air Force One. In 2008, the House GOP leadership said its members defeated an economic rescue package because then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings with a “partisan” speech.

In both cases, public reactions to Republican whining was overwhelmingly negative. If tonight’s fiscal deadlines go unmet because GOP lawmakers said Obama made them feel bad, it will remind the nation that Republicans in Congress are even more ridiculous than many feared.

Fiscal Cliff and Barack Obama

Obama: a deal 'is in sight, but it's not done'