Obama saw an opening. Invited to speak before the House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore, on January 29th, he seemed to extend an olive branch to Ryan. “I think Paul, for example, the head of the Budget Committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal,” Obama said. “I’ve read it. I can tell you what’s in it. And there’s some ideas in there that I would agree with, but there’s some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about, because I don’t agree with them.” Afterward, Obama made a point of shaking Ryan’s hand and signing an autograph for his seven-year-old daughter, Liza. There was talk in Washington that the two young, wonky Midwesterners might be able to build a working relationship.
OK to all those who denounce Obama for naively reaching across the aisle (including one Robert Waldmann): how did that work out ?
update: Maybe I'm not as dumb as I thought. I was on to it by April.
update 2. Ryan is such a sucker. He loves himself so much that he didn't understand that Obama is not his ally.
In mid-April of 2011, in a speech at George Washington University, Obama once again decided to make an example of Ryan. Republicans were finally about to vote on the Path to Prosperity, and the President was eager to offer his opinion. Obama, for nearly the first time in his Presidency, emphasized the ideological divide between the two parties rather than offering bromides about what they shared. The White House invited Ryan to the speech and reserved a V.I.P. seat for him. Obama had personally called Ryan after Republicans won the majority in the House the previous November, and Ryan thought the two might have a rapport. They both liked sports and, because Ryan’s district runs along the Illinois border close to Chicago, knew many of the same people. “He’s a cerebral guy who likes policy, and he’s from my part of the country,” Ryan said. “At the beginning, I did have some hope.”
Ryan sat in the front row as the President shredded his plan. “I believe it paints a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic,” Obama said. “There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don’t think there’s anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.”
Ryan seemed genuinely shocked.