With Barack Obama’s victory in passing a massive stimulus package marred by days of bad press — as not a single House Republican backed the bill, his health czar went down in flames and his second pick for commerce secretary walked away — the administration has been cut down to size, and lost some of its bipartisan sheen.
Such, at least, has been the beltway chatter, but so far the numbers don’t back it up.
Obama’s approval rating remains well above 60 percent in tracking polls. A range of state pollsters said they’d seen no diminution in the president’s sky-high approval ratings, and no improvement in congressional Republicans’ dismal numbers.
While the Republicans have been positioning themselves as "the opposition", playing to their fiscally conservative base, Barack Obama has managed to keep his base, the majority of the American people, behind him.
With the stimulus safely passed, they say they’re relying on the steady support of a populace that, after a closely watched election, is tuning out the Washington cut and thrust, and views Obama as a high-minded reformer and his Republican rivals as bitter partisans.
“You shouldn’t judge his success in reaching out by the vote count in either chamber of Congress — you’ve really got to judge it based more on what people in the country are thinking and saying,” said John Del Cecato, a media adviser to Obama’s campaign and former partner of Obama aide David Axelrod.
In other words, the tactic of shaping the terms of discussion that has served the Republicans so well, especially since the Reagan years, no longer works. The reality, despite the best efforts of Republicans, is sifting through the spin and endless gab.
With the signing of the bill set for Tuesday, it seems the Republicans may have to rethink their strategy of disowning the stimulus package, handing responsibility for it over to the Democrats. If they want to remain a viable major party, that is.
UPDATE: I'm not the only one whose noticed this article. Jane Hamsher has:
[C}ontrary to beltway opinion, the Republicans are getting hammered. While the Republican Party has only had a net change of -2, those directly involved in the stimulus battle are taking huge hits: McConnell and Boehner at -11, and the Congressional Republicans who are getting such applause from the beltway denizens score a -10.
So has Jonathan Singer at MyDD:
Perhaps more than ever, there is a real divide between what the chattering class inside the Beltway is saying and what the people of this country are saying. We saw the beginnings of this during the campaign, when despite the fact that John McCain was deemed to be winning the news cycles -- indeed, his campaign seemed to care more about winning "Hardball" than it did about reaching 270 electoral votes -- Barack Obama nevertheless continued to lead in the polls, both nationwide and in the key states. Now we're seeing it again, as the establishment media focuses on the less meaningful back and forth while at the same time overlooking the larger picture being grasped by the public -- that is that President Obama is succeeding, in terms of both moving forward his policy agenda and bringing two-thirds of the country along with him in his effort.
And, of course, Duncan sums it up, both pithily and profanely:
I really do wonder what it would take for the Villagers to realize people don't like Republicans and their stupid shit anymore.