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January 23, 2014

Obama Says Political Friendships Matter Only to a Point

David Remnick published additional items from his interview with President Obama, including an exchange that shows Obama has clearly given a lot of thought to the rap that he doesn't have close friendships with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Said Obama: "There's no doubt that personal relationships matter at the margins and can tip something over the finish line if things are aligned to get--if things are aligned for legislation to happen. So I have no doubt that Ronald Reagan's relationship with Tip O'Neill helped to facilitate the Social Security deal getting done. And the personal relationship and social relationship that O'Neill and Reagan may have had paid some dividends."

He added: "But had Tip O'Neill not seen it to be in his interests to do a deal with Ronald Reagan because he had a whole bunch of conservative and Southern Democrats whose districts had been won by Reagan, and had Reagan not been looking at polls from his advisers telling him that Social Security was a very popular program and that he couldn't be seen as antagonistic toward it, it wouldn't have mattered how many drinks Reagan and Tip O'Neill had together."


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