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Much like “bless your heart,” the phrase “I’m praying for you,” is one usually accompanied by a second meaning hidden below the surface.
Speaking at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event over the weekend in La Jolla, California, President Barack Obama recalled how Republicans lawmakers will often come up to him during social events to get pictures of their family members posing with the president.
“A number of Republican caucus members, like [former Congresswoman] Michele Bachmann, they’ll show up and there’s like good cheer and bipartisanship for one evening. Some of them say, ‘I’m praying for you,’” Obama said to a chorus of laughter. “And I don’t question the sincerity that they are praying for me: Please, change this man from the socialist Muslim that he is.
“No, I’m sure it’s more sincere than that,” he continued. “But beyond these interpersonal conversations, this is not somebody who is serious about working on problems.”
However, Bachmann wasn’t the primary target of Obama’s speech. The president spent most of his time blasting Rep. Darrell Issa and boosting the congressman’s Democratic challenger Doug Applegate.
Congress’s richest member, Issa represents the northern, coastal areas of San Diego county. He is most famous for his four-year tenure as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which ended last year. While guiding the committee, Issa led myriad, extremely aggressive investigations into the conduct of the Obama administration. Now, locked in the most competitive electoral contest of his year 15-year career in the House of Representative, at least partially due to his loud, public support of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a district that is gradually shifting to the political center, Issa recently sent out a mailer praising Obama for signing a piece of legislation he co-sponsored.
“This guy has spent all his time simply trying to obstruct, to feed the same sentiments that resulted in Donald Trump becoming their nominee. I think somebody called Darrell Issa—was this you, Doug [Applegate], who said Darrell Issa was Trump before Trump? And now he’s sending out brochures touting his cooperation with me,” Obama continued. “Now, that is shameless. To his credit, I will say that he has been very pleasant to me at our Christmas parties.”
Or, to put it another way, bless his heart.
Read Obma’s full remarks from the event here.
Aaron Sankin is a former Senior Staff Writer at the Daily Dot who covered the intersection of politics, technology, online privacy, Twitter bots, and the role of dank memes in popular culture. He lives in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2016.