Heck, look at this:
Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer reached out to the White House early in the standoff to convey their view: They can win without giving an inch. The White House agreed, giving way to a no-compromise strategy championed internally by senior adviser David Plouffe, who, like the president, was in a fighting mood, according to multiple sources.I don't even think that the Senate unanimity had much to do with it. The Republicans have been more than successful without it in the past. The simple truth here is that fighting for legislation that is publicly popular works. Yes, you need to be smart and canny about how you do it, and I was impressed by the full-court press the White House executed to get this thing passed. The lesson's still clear. With any luck at all, they'll remember that going forward into 2012.
Their thinking, according to White House and congressional aides: Obama and Senate Democrats already negotiated through McConnell. They made concessions. Eighty-nine senators, in a rare moment of overwhelming bipartisanship, approved the deal. And the public, according to polls, was on their side. Case closed.
“We were resolved to hold the line on this from the moment the speaker’s office indicated they were going to cave to the pressures from the fringe element of their caucus,” said a Senate Democratic aide. “We felt we had such a resounding vote in the Senate that they were going to be trapped. It was going to be impossible for the Senate Republicans to walk away from it. They were doomed to be divided because of that.”
This is a bit bittersweet, though. You can't help but wonder about how different the world would be if the White House had been willing to do this from the beginning.