President Barack Obama just can’t seem to resist cracking wise about Congress, even when the timing of his humor seems a bit off.
Back in late December, a laugh line he aimed at Capitol Hill even as tense talks neared a successful end to avoid across-the-board tax increases spurred angry reactions from Republican lawmakers.
Today, though, one of the president’s chief antagonists on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner, decided to turn the other cheek in responding to Obama’s most recent gibe – at least for the moment.
“It’s good to get away from Congress,” Obama said in an aside to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two greeted each other on a tarmac after Air Force One touched down for the president’s visit to Israel.
Netanyahu, no stranger to dealing with balky legislators, chuckled.
In Washington, though, Obama’s quip struck some as dissonant, given that just last week he was traveling to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to make nice with lawmakers — especially the Republicans with whom he has constantly battled — and signal that he’s eager to dig in and work with them.
Boehner, asked on CNN this afternoon about Obama’s joke, at first had a sarcastic rejoinder.
“So much for the charm offensive,” he told the cable network’s Jake Tapper, referring to the president’s Capitol Hill trips.
The Ohio Republican then took a gentler stance, saying: “I’d rather be heckled than ignored.”
And in a sign that maybe, just maybe, the icy relationship he’s had with Obama is thawing slightly, he added with a wry smile: “You only tease the ones you love.”