JONATHAN CHAIT OCTOBER 13, 2010
Peter Baker's long New York Times Magazine feature on President Obama at the halfway point paints a fairly expected picture. Obama believes he has accomplished a great deal, probably neglected the politics, and believes the midterms were more or less an inevitable reaction to a recession and the messy legislative process for which overwhelming GOP obstruction was primarily responsible.
Probably the newest nugget is this bit, toward the end, about what agenda the administration anticipates in the next (probably GOP-run) Congress:
Rouse and Messina see areas for possible bipartisan agreement, like reauthorizing the nation’s education laws to include reform measures favored by centrists and conservatives, passing long-pending trade pacts and possibly even producing scaled-back energy legislation. “You’ll hear more about exports and less about public spending,” a senior White House official said. “You’ll hear more about initiative and private sector and less about the Department of Energy. You’ll hear more about government as a financier and less about government as a hirer.”
Education reform seems like the most significant potential grounds for policy compromise. But I'm still pretty skeptical about the prospects there. Republicans have been very, very loath to credit Obama's education reform initiatives. (Right-wing rhetoric tends to treat Obama as a pet of the teachers unions.) The basic political logic of the first two years will hold: If Obama wins bipartisan support for an initiative, then Obama will gain more popularity, thereby hurting Republicans. So why should Republicans help him?