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One thing I have admired about Obama is his willingness to lose a battle in order to win the war.

I note the steady handwringing here about Obama's oft-stated aim of "bi-partisanship," but I have believed from the outset that Obama had a purpose with his early concessions such as giving up family planning funds (for example) in the first House version. He makes a compromise and House Republicans vote unanimously against the bill, anyway.

Markos and (many) others at Daily Kos have attacked this as some kind of weakness in Obama; a naivete that, somehow, Republicans would come around.

I have viewed it differently....

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First, Obama is incredibly tough. He has always been a ruthless politician, and his quick rise to the presidency is all the proof one needs in that regard. Second, he has continued to give Republicans just enough rope to hang themselves. It has been clear to me that he was going to let them box themselves in on this.

Polls have shown that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of government spending over tax cuts to get the economy moving again. When people are worried about holding onto their jobs and their homes and putting food on their tables and paying for college, they know that there is no private entity big enough to get us out of this incredible mess.

The failure of huge, multi-national banks has cemented that notion.

So Obama let Republicans prattle on about "wasteful spending" and "tax cuts" knowing full well that the public did not share the phony "concerns" of these Republicans. Sure, maybe the pundits and Beltway insiders who love the infighting would promote this disagreement, but the facts in this case are that Americans are damn scared of their own and our nation's precarious economic futures.

And Obama is about to flip this on those dunderheads in the Republican leadership. They are about to become obstructionists in the eyes of the public, nitpicking a needed economic injection and calling for tax cuts when the public doesn't want tax cuts. They want jobs.

Obama takes a much longer term view than the reactionaries on both sides who have become entrenched in their ways after eight years of the inanely simplistic, black-and-white world of Bush-Cheney.

We'll see how it plays out. But between Obama and Emanuel, I think we have two of the toughest Democratic political infighters we have ever seen. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi need to get out of their ruts. Bush is no longer president. The world is not black and white.

Update [2009-2-5 15:56:54 by Bob Johnson]:
I vacillate between thinking he's getting played to thinking he's playing them.

Therefore, I suspect the answer lies somewhere in between.

Years of the Bushian "black-and-white/you're-either-with-us-or-against-us" paradigm will take some time to work through for all of us.

Originally posted to Bob Johnson on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:38 AM PST.

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