July 13, 2011
By Lee-Anne Goodman
The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON - Behind the prying eyes of the White House press corps, Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill bonded so affectionately over their Irish roots that it wounded the president when O'Neill's public remarks were hostile.
Newt Gingrich was so contemptuous of Bill Clinton, on the other hand, that he engineered a government shutdown in an apparent fit of pique about an Air Force One snub by his foe.
U.S. President Barack Obama and John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, are neither sharing after-hours martinis nor in a state of full-fledged warfare, but their relationship is said to be evolving in the eight tense months since the Republicans regained control of the lower chamber of Congress in last fall's congressional elections. . .
"Obama sort of underestimated and failed to develop personal relationships with leading Republicans in his first two years in office, and even, for awhile, after they came back and took control of the House," Cal Jillson, a politics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Friday.
"That's why that golf meeting last month was more important than it seemed initially. It gave them a chance to break the ice, to see each other fail at golf shots and see themselves as human beings in a non-political, social atmosphere."
A warmer relationship between the two men, Jillson adds, could play a crucial role in the days to come as congressional leaders try to cement an agreement aimed at averting a financial catastrophe for the United States by Aug. 2 while also drastically reducing the country's national debt.
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