Tuesday, December 28, 2010

POLITICS - The Extraordinary Lame-Duck Session

"Obama bested GOP in extraordinary lame duck session" by Greg Sargent, Washington Post 12/22/2010


So this afternoon, the Senate voted to ratify New START after months of partisan wrangling and passed the bill giving health benefits to 9/11 heroes after, well, years of partisan wrangling. This, on the same day that Obama signed the repeal of don't ask don't tell, a civil rights milestone. All in all, a pretty productive day.

It's obvious enough that Obama's rebound was remarkable, in that he has defied expectations of gridlock to rack up a fusillade of major accomplishments that have placed him in a stronger position than many expected. But there's more: It turns out he will also emerge from the session with far more kudos from the public than Republicans have earned.

So finds a new CNN poll (PDF), which seems to confirm that Obama "won" the session hands down. It finds that voters approve of his handling of the session, 56-41. By contrast, only 42 percent of Americans approve of the GOP's handling of it, versus 53 percent who disapprove.

The poll has more. It finds that Americans think that Obama has done enough to compromise with Republicans, 59-37. By contrast, a big majority, 68 percent, thinks Republicans have not done enough to compromise with Obama, while only 28 percent think they've done enough.

In other words, Obama may be getting much of the credit for the compromising that made the lame duck session a success. Since the public strongly supported the tax cut compromise, it seems likely these bad numbers from Republicans flow from their opposition to the New START treaty and to repealing don't ask don't tell, both of which have strong public support. This would seem to confirm Adam Serwer's theory that Republicans made the session even more of a win for Obama by holding out against the remaining items on his agenda, in defiance of public opinion.

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