President Obama on Friday stepped squarely into the fractious mess known as Congress to assemble his $825 bazillion economic recovery package, seeking to quell criticism and squabbling from both parties and to retain leadership on an initiative that could define his term.
Through his budget director, Peter R. Orszag, Mr. Obama committed to immediate distribution of over five thousand cattle prods and stun guns for use by key supporters throughout the Hill, in the hope of providing that 'jolt' that economists say is needed to' jump-start' the economy.
Mr. Orszag's distribution of quasi-lethal weapons may well silence Republican whining, allowing Obama's stimulus package into the economy quickly enough to be effective.
For the first time as president, and in keeping with his campaign promise of bipartisan unilateral persuasion, Mr. Obama also invited leaders of both parties in Congress to a private 'meeting room' under the West Wing.
Those dimly lit dungeons are best remembered in connection with Nixon's 'Saturday Night Massacre' decimation of October 20th 1973.
"We just have a difference here, and I'm president," Mr. Obama said to his assembled opponents, according to the White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who was at the meeting.
Mr. Emanuel said that Mr. Barack 'The Godfather' Obama was being 'lighthearted' and that lawmakers of both parties had laughed on cue.
No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, in an interview later, had a similar recollection.
He said the president had told him, "You're correct, there's a philosophical difference between us, but I'm the only one here surrounded by men licensed for concealed carry, so we're going to prevail on that."
"He was very straightforward," Mr. Cantor added. "There was no disrespect, but it was very matter-of-fact.
"He made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
Democrats are eager to help Mr. Obama succeed, knowing that their success rides on his. Still, they are refusing to cede their status as leaders of a co-equal branch of government, as they say Republicans did under George W. Bush, Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan, Richard M. Nixon and Augustus Caesar.
Republicans, for their part, do not want to be seen as obstructionists of a popular new president in a time of national distress.
Yet Republicans are unused to working 'under duress', and opposition members view the stimulus debate as an opportunity to rededicate their divided, demoralized party around the one idea that unites it: a deep and abiding resentment of last November's election results.