From Theda Skocpol ...
In response to what you are saying: Obama is, sadly, much to blame for giving the Republicans so much leverage. He defined the challenge as biparitsanship not saving the U.S. economy. Right now, he has only one chance to re-set this deteriorating debate: He needs to give a major speech on the economy, explain to Americans what is happening and what must be done. People will, as of now, still listen to him -- and what
else is his political capital for?
Speaking as a strong Obama supporter who put my energies and money into it, I am now very disillusioned with him. He spent the last two weeks empowering Republicans -- including negotiating with them to get more into Senate and his administration and giving them virtual veto-power over his agenda -- and also spending time on his personal cool-guy image (as in interview before the Super Bowl). The country is in danger and he ran for president to solve this crisis in a socially inclusionary way. He should be fighting on that front all the time with all his energies -- and he certainly should give a major speech to help educate the public and shape the agenda. That is the least he can and should do. Only that will bypass the media-conserative dynamic that is now in charge.