If you approach the meeting from a non-partisan perspective, it's safe to say Harper's dance with Obama, and the framing afterwards, works for the good news starved Prime Minister. Harper was quite steady during the press conference, forceful on certain issues, a strong performance. The reviews were positive, and the simple optics clearly help Harper's image.
What is particularly noteworthy, Harper has effectively given himself a free pass on the environment for quite some time. Complete bullshit aside, Harper and his minions have managed to create a new starting point, that virtually relinquishes past nothingness. Harper even went so far as to absolve the past Liberal government for it's inaction, with reference to the ongoing struggle to engage the Americans. Directly tying our environmental policy, with that of the Americans, means we now basically wait for legislation to slowly meander through Capitol Hill, all the while no pressure on the Conservatives to do much of anything.
Additionally, and more importantly, this "dialogue" on clean energy assumes the beginning of a process, with little expectation for immediate results. It is hard to underscore the importance of Obama endorsing things like carbon capture, and the "music to our ears" sentiment coming out of the oil patch serves as proof. The Conservatives can now present a unified effort, with a President who brings environmental credibility, their fates are joined. There will be no more embarrassing displays on the world stage, because Canada will merely defer to the American leadership, we will move in lockstep, with little space between us, effectively neutering much of the criticism. Any sense of affinity with the Obama administration is a plus for the Conservatives, expect to hear the "working TOGETHER" talking point ad nauseum anytime anybody dares mention the climate change file.
I view the fallout of the meeting as a "stop the bleeding" scenario for Harper. I suspect any afterglow is entirely temporary, as we return to the onslaught of bad news, but leaders generally do benefit from forums that allow them to look the statesman, this instance is certainly a high profile example. I suspect the PMO has a bit more of a bounce to their step now, sensing some success, in an otherwise gloomy predicament. Does it help Harper's stature? That remains to be seen in any lasting way, but it hasn't hurt, I think that a fair read.