Washington Prowler

Obama’s Canossa Moment

The humbled president speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today.

By 2.7.11

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President Obama makes what some members of the media call "peace" with American business, when he speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today.

Part of that "making peace" has involved signing onto policies largely shaped and pushed by Republicans in Congress after Obama and his Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill ran the U.S. business environment into the ditch. And the speech at the U.S. Chamber is seen as nothing more than one more piece of that pie.

"We don't want to do it," says a White House media aide. "Valerie Jarrett has been walking around here just cursing the U.S. Chamber since she got here, and she has been privately working against this speech ever since it was initially proposed back in the fall."

To prepare for the speech, the White House has been making an effort to speak to representatives of U.S. corporations -- and Chamber members -- for ideas to include in the speech. "It's the same old, same old," says the White House source. "Tax cuts, credits, trade agreements, stuff that our base of support wants nothing to do with. I don't really think people at the Chamber realize just how reviled they are over here. And it's killing us that our guy has do this."

The U.S. Chamber is rolling out the red carpet, encouraging all of its senior board members and Washington representatives to be present. The White House, apparently believing it was in a position to negotiate, requested such a turnout if the President were to speak.

What some in the White House find interesting isn't that the Chamber would have Obama, but that the Chamber believes that Obama and his team might somehow be buying into its agenda.

"Look, you can set this up as we're eating crow, or that we're waving the white flag because we know that unemployment really is up around 10 percent and we know we need the Chamber to help us, or whatever," says the source. "But we're doing this because politically we need to be seen over there, moderating. We will not forget what the Chamber did to our guy over the first two years. They sought to ruin his presidency, and we see a way to kneecap these guys, we will."

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