President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package.
I've always had the opinion that the Obama version of bipartisanship is going to be working to bring his opposition around to his viewpoint, and making whatever concessions are necessary to get the core of what he wants. Republicans are always going to complain about Democratic proposals, and they're always going to pull anything as far to the right as they can get - it was always the conceptual problem with Liebermanesque centrism. The Republican Party doesn't want moderate proposals from the Democratic Party, they want conservative proposals from their own party. There's no profit in persisting in the fantasy that the GOP somehow operates as a benevolent and wholly irrational set of political actors who will leap onto Democratic-branded ideas out of the goodness of their hearts. They're in politics to win, which is sort of the point of this whole process. You get elected to achieve what you think is best for the country, not to get pushed around and branded traitors because you do everything but tattoo the RNC's platform on your face.
Granted, the current Democratic leadership still involves Harry Reid, who's like the late-90s version of Patrick Ewing hobbling down the court after a team that's going to lose the big game no matter how well it plays, but this is still heartening.