The 2012 elections are barely over and tensions between President Barack Obama and the Republican Party are heating up again.
This was manifested in the skirmishing proceeding Obama's meeting with congressional leaders on Friday, including Republican leaders, in a bid to avoid the financial cliff.
The second issue involves Obama's plans to appoint UN Ambassador Susan Rice to the post of Secretary of State soon-to-be vacated by Hillary Clinton.
The tensions between Republicans and Democrats also reflect different ideas on how to interpret the 2012 election.
Republicans may be engaged in a process of soul-searching to find an explanation why the victory that they once thought in their grasp had eluded them. This debate will take some time and differences of opinion have emerged.
The Republicans, however, are adamant in their belief that the results did not represent a political mandate for Barack Obama. For one, as the failed vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is back in his role as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, reminded people the House is still under Republican control rather than under Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Secondly, unique among 2nd term presidents, Barack Obama's margin of victory contracted in 2012 as compared to 2008, whereas other second term presidents increased their margin of victory.
The Democrats come away with a different reading and feel that their ascendancy in a country that is increasingly less white and less religious will be of long duration. They are also heartened by public support for tax increases and particularly higher tax rates for the wealthy. They and the president are therefore confident that they can turn any budget showdown into a political victory that will further solidify their hold on public opinion.
Barack Obama, at his first news conference in 8 months, claimed that he planned to invite his defeated rival Mitt Romney to the White House to tap his experience and hear his ideas on job creation. Obama could afford to be gracious to the rival that his campaign had savaged for a year; he was less conciliatory when it came to his previous rival, Senator John McCain, who had declared that Susan Rice was unqualified for the post of Secretary of State.
Together with his Republican Senate colleague, Lindsey Graham, McCain wants a Watergate style hearing on what happened in Benghazi and he regards Rice as the person who deliberately peddled the false explanation that the attack on the embassy was the result of the crude movie attacking the prophet Mohammed.
Obama defended Rice and sharply attacked McCain and Graham. "But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
If this is to be the tenor of relations, then the US faces continued gridlock, at least till the 2014 elections.