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After stimulus, lessons for Obama

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass its version of the stimulus bill this week. Then it heads to the joint House and Senate conference for final approval.

But none of it has been easy.

Video: Speaking to a town hall in Elkhart, In, President Obama tells the audience that while his recovery plan may not be perfect, Congress needs to act before the economy worsens.

Democrats lost the public relations war and control of the message, allowing inflammatory items like contraceptives, sexually transmitted disease prevention and sod for the National Mall to dominate the conversation.The bill's passage has also been complicated by President Obama's nominee tax problems, culminating in his prime-time round of apologies.

All of it has Democratic strategists privately furious. But politically, none of it may matter a week from now for the President.

"In the end if it works like it looks like it might -- which means it goes through with 60-plus votes, and works out some kinks [in the package] for a sizable majority in both houses -- and it is signed into law, a week from now the basic story will be huge victory for Barack Obama," said Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "It will be the largest economic package passed in the history of the country, with unprecedented quick action and probably bipartisan support. That will be huge for him."

What the bumpy ride provides is four lessons are for this administration: (1) The little things count -- They're what got you here; (2) Use the bully pulpit -- and frame what you're doing; (3) Want the ball -- Maintain more control over legislation; (4) Reality check -- Are Republicans really your friends?