From NBC's Mark Murray
With zero House Republicans voting last week for Obama's stimulus and with attention now focused on just how Senate Republicans might support the legislation, it's worth asking if the media and political observers have misunderstood Obama's bipartisan (or post-partisan) message.
According to his words on the campaign trail, Obama's ultimate goal isn't to win over X number of Republicans -- although that would be a nice byproduct -- but rather to change the tone of the debate.
As the Washington Post notes, "To Obama ... fixing 'broken politics' is less about making concessions just for the sake of finding common ground and more about elevating the debate -- replacing cynical gamesmanship and immature name-calling with intellectually honest arguments and respect for the other side's motives."
In fact, here's what Obama said when he announced his presidential candidacy in Springfield, IL: "It was here [in Springfield] we learned to disagree without being disagreeable - that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst."
More: "What's stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics - the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems."
And here's Obama at his famous Iowa Jefferson-Jackson speech: "I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s. I don't want to pit Red America against Blue America, I want to be the president of the United States of America."