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Obstructing the Obstructionists

Speaking of gloating, I just want to point out that two weeks ago, when most progressives were complaining bitterly about Obama trying to be all bipartisan with the Republicans, I posted an article pointing out that Obama was cleverly painting the obstructionist Republicans into a corner.

The pundits and bloggers now seem to have figured out this strategy, perhaps helped along by Rahm Emanuel’s clear explanation in the New Yorker: “The public wants bipartisanship. We just have to try. We don’t have to succeed.” Gandhian hardball, indeed!

And the strategy seems to be working. Two new polls show that 75% think that Obama is trying to work with the Republicans, while only 30% think the Republicans are returning the favor. Not only that, but those polled gave significantly higher approval ratings to the Democrats than Republicans, with 80% saying that Obama had so far exceeded their expectations. Even more worrisome for the GOP, “Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront ‘the big issues’ over the next few years.” And since the Republicans really have no choice but to play to their base (e.g., the Dittoheads), they really are stuck in a corner (which seems to be shrinking).

What makes me happy about this is not that I get to gloat, but that this strategy will soon be paying big dividends (for the country, not just political dividends). It was prudent for Obama to use this strategy during negotiations on the economic stimulus, since even Republicans generally thought that the government needed to do something to avoid economic collapse.

But consider upcoming issues like reforming health insurance in this country. The Republicans are dead set against this, and have shown that they will do anything to defeat any reform in this area. But if the country sees them as just being a bunch of flies in the ointment, their attacks may not work.