Frenemies Forever

Mitt Romney has been as elusive as Bigfoot since he lost three weeks ago, blurry photos and all. But on Thursday he emerged from the shadows. After six long years of running for president, Romney finally waltzed into the Oval Office to lunch with re-elected President Obama. Over white turkey chili and Southwestern chicken salad, the two former opponents spoke for an hour. According to a press release from the White House, they discussed "America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future." And, like true frenemies, "they pledged to stay in touch."

It's hard not to read that shiny, happy description from the White House with skepticism. Their lunch was closed to the press—just the two former rivals chit-chatting with no aides present. We don't know what they talked about, but one can use one's imagination. Which Mitt Romney showed up? The old Massachusetts moderate or the bitter loser? Did he tell the president that Obamacare is the end of Western civilization? Did the president, known for his snark, launch any barbs about presenting Romney gifts? Perhaps Romney apologized for falsely centering his campaign's foreign policy on the fictitious claim that Obama had apologized for America? Or, more likely, the two slurped their soup through strained grins, anxiously checking their watches and counting down the minutes until the political photo-op was done with.


So They Say

“We see tribal armbands, a lot of ex-lovers’ names, a smattering of college and professional sports teams, but we don’t typically see a lot of political tattoos. I think the core demographic who have tattoos are not necessarily people who are that passionate about politics.”

—Will Kirby, L.A. plastic surgeon, who will be leading the team removing the giant Romney/Ryan tattoo from Eric Hartsburg's face. 

Daily Meme: Fiscal Cliffhanger

  • Congress still seems to be OD-ing on tryptophan after last week's festivities, as progress on the fiscal cliff remains sluggish. 
  • Politico had a scoop today on what the final deal could look like, and yes, trillion-dollar tax hikes and "entitlement reform" are sure to have a starring role. 
  • But, as Jon Chait points out, a lot of blanks are waiting to be filled in. 
  • One of the biggest holes: What exactly do the Republicans want on Medicare?
  • And what is the smartest thing to do with entitlement reform? A lot of the things conservatives are proposing, like raising the eligibility age, have unintended consequences, besides being quite unpopular
  • Boehner is grumpy about progress—he called the White House and demanded that the president "get serious" on spending cuts.
  • Erskine Bowles has gone full-doomsday, with little over a month remaining until sequestration is scheduled to take effect. “I believe the probability is that we are going over the cliff, and I think that will be horrible.”
  • The real casualty of the fiscal cliff might not be American society, as Bowles seems to believe, but the influence of local Trollope character Grover Norquist. 
  • Harry Reid sums up the lack of consensus on all things money-related in Congress best: "There will be an agreement on the debt ceiling, or there will be no agreement."

What We're Writing

  • Robert Kuttner asks, why is Obama making concessions before he has to on the fiscal cliff?
  • Amanda Marcotte's plan for how Obama should thank women who voted for him?Revisiting his Plan B decision from last year. 


What We're Reading

  • The Obama campaign e-mail subject line that raked in the most dough? "I will be outspent."
  • Amy Davidson asks: Is it time to put Hillary 2016 to bed? "Dynasties doesn’t seem like any way to revitalize the political process."
  • Why isn't Obama using his huge campaign email list to help gain support in the fiscal-cliff fights?
  • In which a lawyer in a Supreme Court case is convinced Rehnquist is still chief justice. Multiple times. 
  • Can anyone argue against the fact that Joe Biden has more fun being a politician than anyone?
  • Alec MacGillis unpacks Stuart Stevens's defense of the presidential campaign he ran.
  • Mike Tomasky considers other potential Secretary of State nominees. 


Poll of the Day

If Cory Booker decides that a career in the Senate is more to his liking than the gubernatorial stage, New Jersey Democrats are A-OK with that. For the Democratic primary in 2014, 59 percent of voters prefer the Newark mayor to incumbent Frank Lautenberg in a new Public Policy Polling survey. Against potential Republican candidates, Booker also outperforms Lautenberg.

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