Obama's shave ice order: A sign of bipartisanship?

Does the president's flexibility on shave ice flavors show an openness to compromise as the Republicans take control of the House?

Kevin LaMarque/Reuters
President Obama enjoys a shave ice with family friend Anita Blanchard in Kailua, Hawaii on January 3.

President Obama is back in Washington after his two-week vacation in Hawaii. No doubt it’s going to be tough for him to turn his mind back to work. Who wouldn’t have trouble with that transition? He’s trading shorts, balmy breezes, and blue skies for bare trees and the imminent ascendance of Republicans to power in the House.

But we believe he’s showing subtle signs that his mind is in a different place and he intends to bend – somewhat – to Washington’s new power calculus.

What’s our evidence? Two words: shave ice.

Shave ice is a frozen treat made from the finest all-natural ingredients. It’s like a snow cone that went to college and got an advanced degree in delicious. Obama and his family go to a local landmark named Island Snow for shave ice whenever they’re in Hawaii. It’s a tradition of presidential relaxation – like Ronald Reagan chopping wood at his ranch.

Usually Obama orders the same shave ice flavor combination: guava orange, cherry, and lemon-lime. He’s been so predictable about this that Island Snow has dubbed that particular mix the “Snowbama.”

However, when Obama last Tuesday arrived at Island Snow’s Kailua branch for his annual visit, he called an audible. Per a suggestion made by employee Renee Ebia, he replaced the guava orange with melon. Going in new directions! Working with others to make his shave ice a better product! That sounds like a recipe for bipartisan progress if we’ve ever heard one.

(Come on, that makes as much sense as most of the punditry you’ve heard this week. Admit it. It might even be worth a Fox News consulting contract.)

And then Obama did it again. On Monday, he returned to Island Snow for one last shave ice before boarding Air Force One. Instead of the three flavors of his previous visit, he chose only two: melon and cherry. Does this mix reduction presage a desire to rein in government spending? Time will tell. Back to you in “The Situation Room,” Wolf.

Obama remains a Democrat, of course, so in the end he did not go in wild new directions in shave ice. Queried by reporters on his trip home, he reiterated that he had refrained, as usual, from ordering ice cream, sweet milk, or sweet azuki red bean topping.

“I’m a plain shave ice guy,” he said.

He also said he had been “consistent” in his choice of flavors, despite clear evidence of his changes of taste. And he indicated that he understood that Republicans were going to be flexing their new power in Washington for weeks, if not months, to come.

“They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time,” he said.

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