What a concept: Talking it over

So this is what it has come down to: A U.S. president speaking on the phone or having dinner with lawmakers of the opposing party is a news story - not just any news story, but a BIG news story.

"President woos GOP to seek broad deal," trumpeted Thursday's front-page headline in The Wall Street Journal.

"Reaching across aisle, Obama picks up tab at dinner with GOP," revealed NBCNews.com.

There was a time, of course, when presidents speaking to or socializing with members of the opposing party wasn't such a big deal.

"Deals were made, but not because these people became bosom buddies or liked each other," Brookings Institution scholar Stephen Hess said earlier this year. "These people could deliver, and that's what made a difference."

Clearly, it will take more than one dinner at a swanky hotel to thaw the deep-seated icy relationship between the president and GOP lawmakers. But it's comforting to know that both sides seem to have acknowledged that solving problems can only be accomplished by talking to each other - not about each other.

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