Always a class act.

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama and Harry Reid needed to clear the air. The relationship between the president and the Senate majority leader had been deteriorating since 2011, with Reid losing respect for Obama’s ability to negotiate with Republicans and Obama unsure if Reid had as much control over his Senate Democratic caucus as he liked to say.

So at the White House’s invitation, the two met in the Oval Office on July 9, with no staff, to talk one on one. It was a cathartic moment, one in which long-buried tensions were fully aired. Aides to the two men tell a similar story: Their boss had been losing confidence in his counterpart and wanted the meeting as a way to buck up the other. […]

That July meeting ended up being just what the two needed. “That was good,” Reid would tell his chief of staff, David Krone, who’d been waiting outside with top White House aide Rob Nabors. It helped lay the groundwork for what would be a critical — and fruitful — political partnership during the high-stakes budget fights this fall.

Through the first government shutdown in 17 years and a near-breach of the nation’s debt limit, they followed this playbook until it ultimately resulted in a Republican collapse.

“We just both came to the conclusion that the time had ended to be taken in by these crazy people,” Reid said. “The president said, ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’ And we didn’t.”

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