Steve Benen of the Maddow Blog doubts the goodwill dinner is really an indication that Washington is ready to work together:
[T]here's a predictable trajectory to this process that we've seen before. I hate to sound like a cynic, but consider the usual pattern: a Republican says, "We demand President Obama support X." The White House says, "Fine, we're willing to put X on the table." At which point Republicans respond, "We no longer accept X; and now demand Obama support Y."
I'm glad the participants at last night's dinner had a good time, and if some GOP senators learned something about the president's offer they did not previously know, it was probably time well spent. But are Republicans now (or will they ever be) open to new revenue? Can they apply savings from closed tax loopholes to deficit reduction instead of more tax cuts? Will their desire for a deal outweigh their fear of a primary challenge?
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones also questioned the practical implications of Obama's meal with Republicans:
I doubt very much that it will accomplish anything. LBJ's legendary schmoozing, the touchstone for this kind of thing, has always been overhyped, but even at the height of his powers he would have had little luck with the kind of Congress Obama has to deal with. It's true that there have long been a few Republican senators willing to break ranks on taxes, but there's little reason to think the rest of them will be swayed by any kind of sweet talk or detailed white papers. And that goes double for the House. It's just not in the cards. This stuff is driven by policy and ideology, not by personalities.