President-elect Obama dined Tuesday with “some of his fiercest intellectual adversaries,” said Jonathan Martin in Politico, including conservative writers George Will, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Larry Kudlow, David Brooks, Rich Lowry, Peggy Noonan, Michael Barone, and Paul Gigot. The off-the-record dinner was followed by a meeting on Wednesday with liberals and “prominent columnists” like E.J. Dionne, Maureen Dowd, and Frank Rich.
Maybe Obama’s “noise about post-partisanship during the presidential campaign” wasn’t just hot air, said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. And by including partisan stalwarts like Kristol in his outreach dinner, Obama is showing he wanted more than “a conservative ‘beard’.” The confab just might “take some of the nastiness out of the punditry” for a few months, but “one dinner does not Xanadu make.” And not all of the arrows will come from Obama’s right.
Well, “Obama needs to be careful here,” said Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive. He thinks his charm will “tug these conservatives in a progressive direction,” but they’re more likely to tug him rightward. Obama has many admirable qualities, but he also “aims too much to please—and not so much his base of support as his ideological opponents.”
That’s one of the mysteries of Obama, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. He has “spent his adult life tilting left while courting conservatives,” and he reportedly enjoys “talking with philosophical adversaries more than with allies.” But in terms of how he’ll govern, Obama prefers pragmatism over ideology.
Let’s hope so, said Matt Welch in Reason online. Obama will be judged by what he does rather than whom he dined with. But this charm offensive highlights Obama’s “true political genius”—when you talk with him, you feel like the most important person in the room. In that light, Obama may not be transcending partisanship so much as “finding out just how cheap a date A-list pundits are.”