It was a foregone conclusion that Wednesday's White House meeting between President Obama and House Republicans would result in no forward progress in addressing the nation's fiscal issues. Presidents don't negotiate with scores of lawmakers from the other party.
But that's not to say both sides didn't get something out of it.
For Obama, it was another chance to show himself reaching across the aisle to at least talk civilly with Republicans. Independent voters essential to his re-election have repeatedly told pollsters they like him better when he does that.
Likewise for Republicans, it was an opportunity to show that they, too, could have a reasonable and respectful conversation with the president about the best way to reduce the massive deficits and debt.
Oh, and it allowed both sides to accuse each other of demagoguery, although politely.
Politico.com's Glenn Thrush and Abby Phillip reported:
"We pressed him repeatedly to stop the demagoguery," House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told POLITICO after the meeting which lasted over an hour. GOP leaders also asked Obama, who was flanked by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, to "stop saying that we don't have the best interests of the country at heart," Cantor added.
"The demagoguery," Obama pointedly reminded his guests, "comes from both sides."