Since “I won” is a fixture of Barack Obama’s approach to bipartisanship and the powers of persuasion, since that phrase is his manifestation of a new birth of civility in our nation’s capital, it seems that it also should be the solution to his problem with those nasty revisionist Republicans. Obama won and so did his party, with large majorities in both houses. He even got just enough Republican defectors in the Senate to avoid a filibuster on the legislation he says we so desperately need. So pass the damn bill already and stop pointing fingers.
Instead Obama wanted LBJ-style bipartisan supermajorities for his biggest legislative victories, without doing the LBJ-style work of actually cobbling them together. But guess what? Obama won. Most of the Republicans who would pay a political price for standing up to a Democratic president have already been voted out of office. Most of the surviving Republicans come from states and districts where Obama isn’t The One, where the sound of his voice doesn’t send a thrill up the leg. And guess what? These Republicans won their elections too. Did Obama decide to shelve his opposition to George W. Bush’s policies after Bush won re-election? No, in part because he won election in his own right in Illinois while campaigning against those policies. Opposing them was his right.
The onus is entirely on Obama and his party. The Republicans can do little more than force him to defend the merits and contents of his stimulus package. But what did Obama expect? He won. Congratulations. Now he’s got to show he can do something besides hold a rally and flap his gums.