Today's Gallup poll, I think, reveals anew why this insight of McConnell's was so crucial. What McConnell was really saying here is that if any Republicans signed on to Obama's proposals, it risked suggesting to the American people that Obama's governing approach was moderate or even somewhat centrist -- something that could command some agreement. By contrast, when no Republicans signed on to Obama's proposals it made it far easier for them to paint Obama's agenda as ideologically off the rails to the left, which is exactly what they did.
If no Republicans were willing to sign on to Obama's proposals, that had to indicate that something was seriously amiss and that there was cause for real alarm about the overreaching nature of his agenda, right? And judging by the outcome of the midterms, this strategy worked.
Indeed, it's no accident that in the wake of Obama's successful passage of legislation with bipartisan support -- the tax deal, the New START treaty, the repeal of don't ask don't tell -- the new NBC/WSJ poll finds that the number who think Obama is "moderate" has suddenly jumped to the highest ever of his presidency. As McConnell recognized, denying Obama bipartisan support during his first two years made it far easier to paint him as an out-of-control old-style big government liberal -- and as a result, now the public wants him to keep moving to the right in the new era of divided government. Brilliant.
In the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency, Mitch McConnell raised the art of obstructionism to new levels. When McConnell and his united GOP troops couldn't stop things from getting through the Senate, they made sure the Democrats paid a heavy price for winning.
But now, the Senate minority leader who used to refer to himself as "the abominable no-man" faces a very different challenge: Can he actually deliver?
"The first two years, it was frankly pretty simple. From my point of view, they didn't try to do anything in the political center in the first two years, so there was no particular appeal" in trying to get things done, McConnell said in an interview, as he traveled his home state during a recent recess. "The biggest difference will be deciding when we are actually in a position to work with the administration, and when we aren't."