Watching his Republican adversaries in the House of Representatives tiptoe gingerly away from another destructive confrontation over the debt ceiling just before his second inaugural celebration, President Obama must feel a measure of satisfaction. Yet this is a beginning, not a conclusion. The hopes of the nation that re-elected him depend on whether he understands why he is winning – and how he can continue to prevail.
The formula for success was simple enough: He wouldn’t relinquish fundamental positions on taxes and spending. He stopped pretending that the old bipartisanship is currently possible on Capitol Hill. He refused to negotiate under threat from the Republicans. And he called their bluff on the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling.
Adopting those firm positions, he persevered despite the usual deluge of complaint from commentators, politicians, editorial boards, and other Beltway sages, who predictably roasted him for behaving as if he meant what…
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