PAT ROBERTS WANTS OBAMA TO BE LESS ‘SERIOUS’…. President Obama spoke to the Senate Republican caucus’ lunch today, and by all accounts, there was no love lost. The discussion was held behind closed doors at the GOP’s request, but participants later described the back and forth with words like “testy,” “candid,” and “frank.”

Which, of course, is fine. Senate Republicans want to take the country in one direction; the president has a very different vision. The two sides disagree about practically everything. When they get together to chat about policy, it stands to reason that they would clash.

But there was one quote from a participant that stood out for me.

“The more he talked the more he got upset,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said. “He needs to [take] a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans and just calm down, and don’t take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re attacking their motives — and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset.” [emphasis added]

I haven’t the foggiest idea what Pat Roberts is talking about here. He’s complaining that the president cares too much about the substance of the discussion? That Obama should be less “serious”?


Look, I know Pat Roberts isn’t an especially profound senator, but he should at least appreciate the larger situation. President Obama is leading in a time of multiple generational crises, all of which he inherited from a failed Republican administration. While trying to clean up the mess, Senate Republicans have opposed everything — usually just for the sake of opposing — and taken institutional obstructionism to scandalous levels, without precedent in American history. On most of the major policy challenges, the same Senate Republican caucus has not only blocked reasonable proposals, it’s also spent a fair amount of time blatantly and shamelessly lying.

No compromise, no good faith negotiations, no willingness to meet in the middle, no understanding that elections have consequences. This is the m.o. of the Senate Republican caucus for the last 16 months, no matter how much effort the White House invested in pointless “bipartisanship.” I can see why Obama might feel a little aggravated when talking to a group that helped create the mess, refuses to help clean up, and spends every waking moment attacking him for the way he’s tending to their mess.

So, when the president and this caucus get together for a chat, some heated exchanges are to be expected. But we can do without the frequently confused senior senator from Kansas encouraging the chief executive to “take a valium” and not take matters “so seriously.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.