In fact, there is an interesting dynamic forming. The massive spending stimulus bill that Obama is only supported by about half the nation. Closing GITMO, his main foreign policy proposal so far, has similar polling. In other words, while President Obama is currently very popular, his two signature issues get lukewarm receptions at best. As such, President Obama's popularity is fragile and can easily fade.
This brings me to two fairly trivial things that President Obama recently said that could be used in the future against a much less popular President Obama. Speaking to Congressional Republicans, he said this.
You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done
After hearing some concerns about the stimulus plan from Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Obama said this.
I won. So I think on that one, I trump youThis sort of arrogance can be charming when a President is popular, but it can be used against the same President if he isn't all that popular. The President appears to want bi partisanship as soon as that means agreeing with him.
As such, my advice to the Republicans is this. Continue to meet with President Obama. Continue to present your ideas. Continue to voice your concerns. Do it in a respectful manner. Do not attempt to filibuster this stimulus. Reserve the filibuster for ideas like card check and the fairness doctrine, both of which the public generally agrees with the Republicans on. Under no circumstances though should the Republicans get on board any massive spending bill. There is no way that any more than a few marginal Republican ideas find their way into any final bill. That's fine because soon it will be President Obama and the Democrats that will own this stimulus. If and when this stimulus fails, they will also own the recession or even depression.
Then the Republicans need to go on the attack. Then, the Republicans need to point out just how much Obama's talk of bi partisanship is just TALK. They will have their own alternative. That alternative focuses on tax cuts and spending discipline. In other words, it is nearly 180 degrees different than Obama's stimulus plan. As soon as he owns the economy, their alternative, largely hypothetical, will look that much better. Once Obama and the Democrats own the recession, then it will be time to attack. At that point, the civility can end. Point out just how large the deficit is. Point out just how much pork there is in this bill. Furthermore, point out that this is exactly what you, the Republicans, were concerned about, and when you raised those concerns the President said that he won.
As such, the Republicans are in fact in good position to take advantage in 2010. They don't need to be confrontational with a popular President, however they must not give in to something they don't agree with just because the President is popular. Let him enjoy a legislative victory and then be ready to turn that legislative victory into an electoral defeat. They can do it if they think fourth dimensionally.