There’s been no shortage of animosity between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner over the past five years. But the relationship between the two men appeared to thaw somewhat during the State of the Union address on Tuesday.
The highlight came after Obama singled out Boehner for rising from his humble roots to lead Congress:
“They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams,” Obama said. “That’s what drew our forebears here. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be president of the greatest nation on Earth.”
After Obama’s comment, Boehner stood to applaud. Clearly touched by the gesture, he smiled warmly in the president’s direction before offering a salute to the audience.
The comment immediately went viral across social media, with “#sonofabarkeep” becoming the top trending U.S. topic on Twitter. “#speakerofthehouse” followed closely behind.
Interestingly, it was not the first time that President Obama has singled out Boehner for his relationship with his father during a State of the Union address. In 2011, Obama said, "That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as speaker of the House in the greatest nation on earth."
So what is the state of affairs between the two men, exactly?
Via Twitter, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory said the relationship may have strengthened in recent times:
Boehner liked the shout out. Said today his relationship with Prez is good - they talk often about immigration.
— David Gregory (@davidgregory) January 29, 2014
There were also some noteworthy moments of generosity on Boehner’s end, in which he applauded comments from Obama, even on issues in which the two men do not agree.
By our count, Boehner applauded at least 18 times throughout the speech. Some of those were obvious, bipartisan moments, such as when Obama saluted the armed forces and when he introduced first lady Michelle Obama.
But Boehner also applauded politely in a few more contentious moments, including when Obama endorsed using federal funds to hire more construction workers, on passing immigration reform and on ensuring the right to vote.
Still, the rhetorical honeymoon may already be ending. Shortly after the State of the Union speech ended, Boehner took to Twitter and wrote, “Appreciate what the President said tonight but Im w/ those still asking, ‘where are jobs?’”