Obama's Rising Approval Validates McConnell's Strategy

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post just made a point that I was planning to make: the recent jump in President Obama's approval ratings, after the flurry of December deal cutting, sure seems to validate Mitch McConnell's strategy of refusing to cooperate with Democrats. As Greg writes, teeing off a quote from my profile of McConnell in the current Atlantic:

I think this stands as another reminder that the strategy of Senate Republicans during the past two years was politically brilliant. As you may recall, Mitch McConnell got a lot of attention last month because he frankly acknowledged that Republicans made a calculated decision to deny Obama bipartisan support for his proposals in service of a grand political objective:

"We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals," McConnell says. "Because we thought -- correctly, I think -- that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the 'bipartisan' tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there's a broad agreement that that's the way forward."

This is one reason I have a hard time buying the idea put forward by several commentators that the unexpectedly productive lame-duck session heralds a new willingness to cooperate. Maybe I'm wrong, and it does. But Republicans looking at those numbers must be inclined to think otherwise.

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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