Chamber Gives Obama a Backhanded Compliment

Donohue says he appreciates "some" of the things Obama has done.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn't a group prone to giving a compliment to President Obama, but when they do, it can sting. Like today's comment from Chamber President Thomas Donohue when asked to size up the Democratic president after two years in office

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"We appreciate some of the things that the president has done to change his song," said the nation's leading business lobbyist. "I think what we're having is a maturing of the president—happens to all presidents."

The Chamber and White House spent the first two years sparring over several issues and campaign spending. But after the 2010 elections that handed the House to Republicans, the president changed his tune a bit, even hiring a business ally, William Daley, as his chief of staff.

Some of that has tempered the Chamber's war with the administration. Donohue, for example, said that the business group is pleased with Obama's push for trade agreements and jobs.

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In February, Obama even went to the Chamber to break bread. Said Donohue, "We appreciated that he came over for a visit, We listened to his presentation on the oil and gas and energy deal, and some of his rhetoric was a little bit better but surrounded by the same old constraints."

Continuing with a backhanded compliment, Donohue added: "He's figuring out what he can do and he's got to get things in order because of the global demands on him and the global challenges. I don't think he has made a philosophical shift in what he believes or who he is. I think he is accommodating himself to the most challenging job in the world and we appreciate the things that he has done to move in a rational basis on the issues we have been discussing."

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