Barack Obama is a smart guy and a conciliatory guy. In his quest for bipartisan support, conciliatory has won out over smart.
Despite his exceptional potential, Obama dismayed his progressive base in his first year in office by clinging to an illusion of bipartisanship long after Republicans made clear that their only goal was to destroy him. But since early March, something potentially transformative has happened. The seeker of common ground has metamorphosed into a fighting partisan. Faced with the prospect of a humiliating, defining defeat on health reform, Obama has begun exercising the kind of leadership that his admirers discerned during the campaign.The lesson of the arduous politicking required to get even modest health insurance reform is that smart needs to win over conciliatory. There is simply no conciliation with the current Republican leadership. They treat every conflict as total war and project that attitude on their adversaries, which is why they only respect force.