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Prez Plays Nice with the Chamber: Does It Matter?

President Barack Obama
Photo by: Pete Souza
President Barack Obama

“Maybe if we would have brought over a fruit cake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off on a better foot. But I’m going to make it up.”

So saith the president today in a speech delivered to the Chamber of Commerce.

In fact, the love started to flow before President Obama even began his speech—during his introduction by the Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue:

“I reaffirm the American business community’s absolute commitment to working with you and your administration to advancing our shared priorities,” Mr. Donohue said. “Our focus is finding a common ground to advancing America’s greatness.”

The question, of course, is does the gesture matter—or is it merely Théâtre de l'Absurde for the internet age?

Many will argue it doesn't matter a whit: And they will likely produce reams of policy data to support their conclusion.

For example, the New York Times points out:

"The chamber has fiercely opposed most of Mr. Obama’s health care and banking agenda and spent more than $50 million during last year’s midterm elections to cast the president and his party as antibusiness and a threat to capitalism."

On the flip side of the equation, one might argue that people and personality do matter: After all, as The Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher , famously observed—on the BBC, no less: "I like Mr Gorbachev. We can do business together”

Is this a serious attempt to build bridges? Or are both sides cynically playing to the cameras in bad faith?

What do you think?

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