Obama: An Eternal Optimist -- But Not A Sap

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The common theme of  President Obama's early efforts has been the solidity of his goals, and the pliability of his means for achieving them, Atlantic Media political director Ronald Brownstein writes. Brownstein and a select group of columnists interviewed President Obama last night.  Read Ron's take here.  An except is below.

Obama held no illusions about the scale of the challenges he faces, both economic and political. One of those challenges was the overwhelming Republican resistance to his plan, which frustrated his campaign hopes of quickly bridging Washington's ideological and partisan divides. Obama seemed to split that opposition into several categories. Some of it was ideological: "I think that there were some senators and House members who have a sincere philosophical difference with the idea of any government role in boosting demand in the economy. They don't believe in [economist John Maynard] Keynes and they are still fighting FDR." Some was tactical: "I also think that there was a decision made... where [Republican leaders] said... 'If we can enforce conformity among our ranks, then it will invigorate our base and will potentially give us some political advantage either short-term or long-term." He paused. "Whether that's a smart strategy, I think you should ask them."
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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