The stories about the relationship between President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill are legendary. Both President Bush 41 and President Clinton regularly played golf with lawmakers from both parties. Bush loved to play horseshoes, too; for Clinton, it was a card game named "Oh Hell." Both enjoyed low-stakes games played just for the chance to hang out. That's hard to imagine these days as well. The one time Obama and House Speaker John Boehner played golf together, the match had the atmosphere of a Cold War summit.
Not that long ago, Washington did work. It doesn't have to be the way it is now, and there may be a way to get that atmosphere back. It starts with people in Washington talking to each other, having drinks after work, sitting next to each other over plates of pulled pork at a congressional picnic. It seems like so much of that has disappeared – state dinners, movie nights at the White House, rounds of golf with the loyal opposition. It's not too late for Obama to change that.
Time to get things back on track – not just for the White House, but for the rest of the country, too. Otherwise, we're in for a very long three years. Mars might be more fun.