Even as the stimulus package shrunk thanks to the efforts of Blue Dogs and Republicans, there were a handful of prominent commentators–I’m thinking of Andrew Sullivan in particular–who looked at the poll numbers, noticed Obama was still popular and decided that despite what those fancy Manhattan elites and foppish economists were saying, the White House was secretly winning the whole debate.

Of course, the point of proposing a stimulus package isn’t just to get good poll numbers, but to actually stimulate the economy. It’s good that we’re going to have a bill, but it’s going to be much smaller and weaker than it could have been; and if you don’t believe me, believe the Obama people. It looks like this experience has taught them what some of us frothing-at-the-mouth opponents of reflexive bipartisanship have been saying all along: the conciliatory tactics of the campaign trail don’t necessarily translate into a good way to enact policy.


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