Our President has never had to deal with Republicans in a serious way.
On every issue, it seems he offers what he thinks is the right policy prescription, not realizing that Republicans are paid to oppose the President.
I asked a person who is not very interested in politics, what the President should do if everything he offers is going to be rejected?
They answered correctly, offer exaggerated proposals that they can reject, and then negotiate down to what he thought was right in the first place.
So if you really believed that the Stimulus in 2009 should have 1/3 spending, 1/3 tax cuts, 1/3 help to the states; and you know the Republicans will want less spending, less help to the states, and way more tax cuts; and this is politics which means they must be for more tax cuts than the liberal democrat; then what do you do?
You offer a $1.5 trillion dollar stimulus 50/50 with spending and help for the states. You explain why economists say this is the best way to get "bang for the buck". You campaign on it vigorously.
You implore the Republicans that if they have a better plan, show it.
They will offer tax cuts.
Then you offer a "compromise" which would be exactly what passed and is now in law.
Except instead of being a partisan bill that is attacked; it would be a bipartisan success.
Same thing on healthcare.
Same thing on Financial reform.
After the 2010 elections, Obama seemed happy to be "forced" to deal with Republicans.
But this time his negotiating posture was one of extreme weakness.
They were "hostage takers" and he didn't want any "hostages" (American people) hurt through higher taxes.
Once again, even if you assume, there's no way I'm going to allow taxes to rise on the American people, YOU DON'T SAY THAT!!!
Republicans think Democrats ALWAYS want to raise taxes on every and anybody. That has been the essential charge against Democrats forever. Tax and Spend liberals.
So since they think you are a tax and spend liberal. That gives you the opportunity to say to them in private, I really don't mind having taxes raised on everyone, if that means the rich have to pay their fair share. I'll blame it on you, we'll have that battle. I just lost as much as I could in 2010, 2012 has got to be better.
You must convince them, that as Dennis Green would say, "you are what they thought you were". Once they accept that you want them to hurt "the hostage" by allowing taxes to rise, then they will be coming back begging for a deal. When conservatives wonder why the Republicans keep caving, they'll tell them, "you don't know how much of a socialist this guy really is, we have to protect the country".
Democrats in general and Obama in specific seem to play politics for fun. Republicans realize that politics is war without the bloodshed. It has to be. Otherwise the country wouldn't have survived so long. People's emotions are too combustible to not do politics seriously.
So now Obama couldn't be dumb, could he?
His team played hardball politics against Hillary Clinton to get here.
Or did he? He had the press and the country rooting for him.
He's been lucky in his career.
Now it's time to show political skill.