WASHINGTON--President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) play golf together for the first time on Saturday morning in a much anticipated match where the official word is the game is social--not to do business on the links.
"The Speaker's goal tomorrow is breaking 80," Brendan Buck, Boehner's press secretary, told me on Friday afternoon. "This is a social occasion," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Vice President Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are rounding out the foursome. Kasich and Boehner are old friends from Kasich's days in the House. Will Boehner, a smoker, puff during the game--with Obama, who has stuggled to quit?
Obama is a regular golfer--most often at military base courses--but plays almost all of the time with a very small circle of younger male staffers who have been with him since his presidential campaign. (They are White House press shop staffer Ben Finkenbinder, White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson, and Chicagoan David Katz, an Energy Department staffer.)
Here's what I think Obama and Boehner get out of the golf summit:
*It gives them both a chance to look bi-partisan. Can't hurt.
*It lets them get to know each other. They have no personal relationship now.
*If they decide to talk a little business--they can, informally. Boehner called for Obama to be personally involved in the debt ceiling talks (Biden is handling the actual meetings with a bi-partisan group) so that's on the table. If they want to chat on areas where they have some agreement--there are trade and patent issues pending.
What I'm hearing...don't expect anything major to materialize from the golf outing; it's a game of intangibles Saturday with potential deliverables sometime in the future.