Chris Weigant on the difference between Obama's leadership style during the health care reform debates, and his leadership style now:
The White House was criticized (by me, as well as others) during the endless healthcare reform negotiation, for not putting some skin in the game. Obama and the West Wing folks seemed content to sit back and let congressional Democrats have all the time in the world to (quite publicly) have a fight among themselves. The White House never took control of the process at all, instead remaining content to nudge Congress every so often with bland “Gosh, we’d sure like to see some progress” sorts of statements, or vague “goals” issued with no specifics attached. The process took forever, as Democrats haggled among themselves almost endlessly.
Now compare what just happened. At the start of the lame duck Congress, Republicans were presenting a unified front. Democrats, as usual, couldn’t even agree on a single plan in their own caucus. Two competing plans emerged (actually more emerged, but two made it to the top of the heap). Nancy Pelosi got the House to pass one of these fairly quickly, and then (reportedly) the White House pushed hard on Harry Reid to hold a vote on the top two plans in the Senate, as a “test vote.” Both of these only managed to get 53 votes — they couldn’t even get all the Senate Democrats to support either one of them.
After showing they didn’t have nearly enough votes in the Senate, and facing an absolute brick wall from Republicans, the White House sat down and (fairly quickly) hashed out a final deal with the Republicans. Congressional Democrats didn’t even enter in the equation, if truth be told.
Which is my point. This deal was worked out in almost exactly the opposite fashion that Obama has been operating for a long time. Instead of deferring to Democrats in Congress — in the hopes that they will get their act together, in some period of time less than “forever” — Obama led the negotiations. These negotiations were carried out with remarkably few leaks, and a deal was struck which is actually a lot better than was rumored just hours before it was announced. The conventional wisdom floating around inside the Beltway was that Obama was going to get a short extension of unemployment benefits, and not much more. But the plan announced was far more sweeping, meaning perhaps the White House negotiators are better than people generally think they are. Obama got a lot more than anyone was willing to give him credit for beforehand, and he did get some concessions from the Republicans in doing so — which nobody really expected. (Boldface mine)
Via Osborne Ink