President Barack Obama speaks with Speaker of the House John Boehner during a meeting at the White House in Wash., DC, in this July 23, 2011 file photo. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
Republicans should have a healthy dose of skepticism when dealing with President Barack Obama. Unfortunately, though, a small faction gives him the benefit of the doubt at every turn. We saw it just last week as several Republicans signaled that the president seemed “sincere” in his effort to reach across the aisle by taking a dozen Republican Senators to dinner.
These Republicans would be wise to consult their high school mythology textbooks and heed the wise words of Laocoön who warned his fellow Trojans, "Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greek, even when bringing gifts."
Despite the fact that the Greeks had proven themselves sworn adversaries, the Trojans welcomed the wooden horse with gleeful joy only to find that nestled inside were an army of Greeks prepared to destroy the city.
And destroy the city they did.
Like in the woeful story of the Trojan horse, Obama has shown himself a foe of Republicans repeatedly. And Republicans have no reason to believe that will change.
Even so, several GOP lawmakers have embraced the president’s shallow attempt to extend an olive branch. Following dinner with the president, Senator Ron Johnson said, “It was an excellent dinner. It was a genuine, sincere open discussion of the fiscal problems facing the nation.” And Senator Mike Johanns remarked, “I think he's very sincere, I think he wants to try to figure something out.”
It seems the Republicans have forgotten the whole sequestration debacle just this month, where the Obama Administration looked a lot like Pinocchio gone wild. In the third presidential debate, Obama disingenuously tried to pin sequestration on the Republicans saying, “the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.”
It took Bob Woodward denouncing the Obama administration for the White House to finally admit that sequestration was in fact the president’s idea. But Obama was willing to let the Republicans take the fall. So why would the Republicans choose to trust him now?
Have they forgotten the time when Obama invited Congressman Paul Ryan to one of his speeches only to berate him in front of the audience? Or when Obama upstaged the Gang of Eight with a speech in Las Vegas after they had come together to formulate a bipartisan immigration reform plan?
And then there was the time that Obama lambasted the Supreme Court for their campaign finance decision, as six of the nine members sat in front of an audience full of University of Alabama law students. Chief Justice John Roberts went so far as to say, “The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court – according the requirements of protocol – has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."
The president may speak eloquently about his desire for bipartisanship, but his actions tell a different story.
Both this week and last have been filled with curious attempts by the White House to reach out to Congress. Last week, Obama took 12 GOP Senators to dinner, met with Congressman Paul Ryan, and made several phone calls to Republican lawmakers. This week, he will meet with members from the Senate and the House on Capitol Hill.
But as Republicans prepare for the conciliatory rhetoric they are bound to hear, they ought to keep in mind the president’s duplicitous actions and head the modern version of Laocoön’s admonition: “Beware of Democrats bearing gifts.”