A reader writes:
You wrote:"He's been badly bloodied, but if he endures and wins, that makes his victory look like that of an underdog."
Yes, but there is so much more here. Obama's contention all along has been that it is better to talk, debate, listen. The GOP contention has been that it is better to oppose, vilify, demagogue. This is the same GOP playbook that has worked again and again and again. Despite the crushing losses of 2006 and 2008, still the machinery (Beck, Kristol, et al) continues the drumbeat for total war.
If Obama outlasts them -- if he takes every punch and emerges victorious -- then two key things will happen.
First, the voices on the right advocating opposition will have to account for their failing. Second, Obama will gain more leeway and tolerance from the middle-of-the-road voter, further strengthening his hand. In effect, succeeding grants Obama the right to move even slower in the future, as it suits him. Trust is (re)born.
The rabid GOP mentality has not been broken. The nationalistic heart of the beast still lives in the Cheneys. But if they cannot deliver in 2010, or on healthcare, the number of people inside the party who will want to change course will only grow. Throw in Palin and the sullen resentments of the fundamentalist right, and the GOP could be crippled for far longer than people currently imagine.
Do what you can to get healthcare passed. Yeah. I'm talking to you. Call your congressman and Senator. Organize.