Obama’s Popularity, Kindness Fail to Sway a Single Republican

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Ryan Pacifico can't help that he has fine features and pouty lips. Photo: Getty Images

Going into last night's House vote on the stimulus bill, two things were clear: The bill would pass, and very few Republicans would vote for it. Well, "very few" turned out to be ... none. 177 against. None for. Sure, the Democrats had the numbers to pass the bill anyway, but that's not what President Obama wanted. He strove for bipartisan support, removing unpopular provisions and meeting with Republicans to listen to their concerns. He even threw a cocktail party last night so everyone would feel awkward if the the vote went badly. But it was all for naught. There's still the more promising Senate vote ahead, but Republicans made a statement here. In the first big test of this new presidency, both for Obama and the Republican minority, there were plenty of lessons to take away.

• Matthew Yglesias hopes Obama has learned "to spend less time seeking political cover to mitigate the downside to possible policy failure, and more time trying to implement the best policies he can." [Think Progress]

• Eve Fairbanks knows "it's considered a moral defeat for Obama that tonight's stimulus vote was party-line, but frankly, I kind of liked it. Nobody voted for it and they still lost. That’s “what it really feels like to be in the minority." [XX Factor/Slate]

• Steve Benen says that if Republicans aren’t "willing to support a stimulus package in the midst of a global economic crisis, it's hard to imagine when, exactly, GOP lawmakers are going to work with the majority party in a constructive way." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• John McCormack calls it "a display of unity that the minority party will need going forward." [Blog/Weekly Standard]

• Paul Krugman sarcastically wonders if we're "glad that Obama watered it down and added ineffective tax cuts, so as to win bipartisan support?" [Conscience of a Liberal/NYT]

• Toby Harden thinks the "failure to get even the squishiest moderate Republican … shows that it is not just Fox, the loony Right or Rush Limbaugh — or however else you might want to characterise the opposition in order to marginalise it — who had grave misgivings about the content of the bill." [Telegraph UK ]

• Kevin Drum believes "it's now safe to say that the GOP caucus has decided to pick up where it left off last year, in full-on obstruction mode." [Mother Jones]

• Michelle Malkin claims Republicans "may have lost the vote, but they sent a lasting message. They took a stand for principle and posterity. They reclaimed their brand as the party of small government, low taxes, and fiscal responsibility. They restored their damaged credibility." [Michelle Malkin]

• Michael Crowley thinks the vote signals that "the 2010 midterm campaign is now very much underway." [Plank/New Republic ]

• Nate Silver writes that the GOP "would presumably have gotten its point across about the merit of the legislation" even if a few of its members had voted yes. But "[t]heir unanimous opposition reads as an emphatic rejection of the President and the President's attempts at 'bipartisanship'. And the President is very popular right now." [FiveThirtyEight]

• Jennifer Rubin contends that the president’s popularity would matter more "if the Republicans were each running against Barack Obama. But they will be running against Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats whose collective favorability rating is, well, 20 percent or so." [Contentions/Commentary]