But he specificity of this expectation as Yglesias expresses it was stunning to me:
In the winter of 2008-2009, the leaders of the Obama transition effort had a theory as to how things would go and mainstream Washington agreed with them.They expected 70- to 75-vote majorities?!?
The theory went like this. With large majorities in the House and Senate, it was obvious that lots of Democratic bills would pass. But the White House would be generous and make concessions to Republicans who were willing to leap on the bandwagon. Consequently, incumbent Republicans from states Obama won (Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Nevada) would be eager to cut deals in which they backed Obama bills in exchange for key concessions. With that process under way, many Republicans who weren't even that vulnerable would be eager to cut deals as well, in search of a piece of the action. As a result, bills would pass the Senate with large 70- to 75-vote majorities, and Obama would be seen as the game-changing president who healed American politics and got things done.
I've been thinking it was ridiculous of the Democrats not to have abolished the Senate filibuster rule right away when the new Congress convened in 2009.
I guess I had not idea of how delusional the operative assumptions were. Wow!
Yglesias gives McConnell too much credit saying "he is arguably the sharpest mind in contemporary politics on a strategic level."
In fact, the Republicans in Congress in 1993-4 pursued an obstructionist course, leading to the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994. After that, the Republicans intensified their obstructionism. That was followed by Shrub Bush's selection as President by the Republican Supreme Court in 2000, and the years of war and radicalism that followed.
It's astonishing to think that Obama and his political team could seriously have believed in 2008 after his election that the Republicans in Congress would cheerfully line up to give him 75-25 majorities in the Senate on any important domestic legislation.