We're just two weeks into President Barack Obama's term and already we can see signs of conflict not only between the new administration and the Republicans, but also with other Democrats in Congress.
The Republicans are aware of the differences between the Democratic Congress' liberal agenda and Obama's post-partisan platform. It is because of this fact that the GOP even in its weakened state has been able to stay on message and garner the attention of the American people. They're hoping that a split in the Democratic party will force Obama to either pursue Republican votes and build a more moderate coalition, or that the new President will shift too far to the left and offer the Republicans the opportunity to pick up seats in the next election.
So why the lack of unity?
You can start by pointing the finger at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The House led by Pelosi seems intent on ignoring the reasons for Obama's success in the national election by moving ahead with legislation that does not appeal to their Republican adversaries. The polls tell us is that the American people support Obama's stimulus plan, and they have become dissatsfied with our current health care system during the Bush years. There is a real opportunity for them to pass significant legislation during the next four years, but that could all be thrown away by spending the American people's money in an irresponsible manner.
What would I do?
Under normal circumstances I would say Obama should take a hard line stance and refuse to sign a partisan bill. Unfortunately the economy seems to be getting worse each and every day; and this may not be the time to stand up to Congress. I do believe however, that at some point in the near future Obama is going to have to take a significant stand against his own party if he is going to come across as an authentic non/post partisan candidate.
One thing that always interests me about politics is the motivation of the various players involved. This could be a true battle of pragmatism vs. ideology or a clever rouse designed to fool the American people once again. Maybe what we're seeing is the classic good cop-bad cop routine. The congress' role is to scare the hell out of the American people with overly liberal legislation until our white knight Obama can come to the rescue and reign in Republican support by facilitating changes to the bill. Its impossible to know if politicians are talking straight or just playing the political game.
Polling Report - Obama
Rasmussen Reports - Congress
Yahoo! - Obama vs. Pelosi