I sense Obama hitting his stride now as President. There was much talk through mid-2010 of his naivete in trying to win over Republicans rather than more or less push Democrats from the left. I suspect now that he may be more comfortable challenging Republicans than he was herding Democrats.
Obama's "preemptive concession" style of negotiating -- e.g., proposing a stimulus that was more than 1/3 tax cuts -- looked a little strange when Democrats had large majorities. With Republicans in control of the House, though, Obama's "preemptive" proposed cuts in discretionary spending hold a sane mirror up to the House GOPs crazy quilt of radically destructive cuts.
Half of his speech to the Governors' Association today was a replay of his latest weekly address and of the SOTU: cut domestic spending rationally; make essential investments in education, infrastructure and R&D; for the long term, focus on health care inflation, the engine of our long-term structural deficit. But the new parts of the speech were vintage Obama. They were verbal judo -- conceding a rational concern at the core of two extreme GOP positions, while challenging their extremist expression on two fronts: a) ending collective bargaining rights for public sector unions, and b) seeking repeal of the affordable care act.
1) On unions:
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