Here's what he said (via email) after the White House meeting with Congressional leaders.
Now, none of this is going to be easy. We have two parties for a reason. There are real philosophical differences -– deeply held principles to which each party holds. And although the atmosphere in today’s meeting was extremely civil, there’s no doubt that those differences are going to remain no matter how many meetings we have. And the truth is there’s always going to be a political incentive against working together, particularly in the current hyperpartisan climate. There are always those who argue that the best strategy is simply to try to defeat your opposition instead of working with them.
And, frankly, even the notion of bipartisanship itself has gotten caught up in this mentality. A lot of times coming out of these meetings, both sides claim they want to work together, but try to paint the opponent as unyielding and unwilling to cooperate. Both sides come to the table; they read their talking points; then they head out to the microphones -– trying to win the news cycle instead of solving problems, and it becomes just another move in an old Washington game.
But I think there was recognition today that that's a game that we can’t afford. Not in these times. And in a private meeting that I had without staff -- without betraying any confidences -- I was pleased to see several of my friends in the room say, let’s try not to duplicate that. Let’s not try to work the Washington spin cycle to suggest that somehow the other side is not being cooperative. I think that there was a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together to try to deal with these problems.
And they understand that these aren't times for us to be playing games.
As a reminder, here's a quote from Kloppenberg's Newsweek article again.
Since January 2009, Obama has watched his efforts at reconciliation, experimentation, and -consensus--building bounce off the hard surfaces of political self-interest and entrenched partisanship, but there is no reason to think he will abandon that strategy now. He knows that disagreement is a vital part of the American fabric, and that our differences are neither shallow nor trivial.
We might as well get used to it. This is how Obama operates. He's bound and determined to "change the way Washington works." I assume he'll continue to give it a go - whether that means one term or two - regardless of how much the left hates it and the right obstructs.