Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama has morphed into Chicago community organizer and politician Barack Obama. And not a minute too soon.
The change took place in the last two months of the fight to pass health care when the President, spurred on by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, decided he had tried long enough to reach an agreement with Republicans.
Obama, Pelosi, Senate leader Harry Reid and other Democrats were frustrated that the health bill, a Democratic goal going back to Franklin Roosevelt, seemed to be heading towards defeat because of Republican unwillingness to compromise.
No doubt, Republicans were winning the framing message. Voters had once supported the bill but now a majority was opposed. Obama and the Democratic leadership stood both to lose their long-desired goal and look incompetent and weak in the process--unable to gain victory even while in possession of the Presidency and both houses of Congress.
Obama and the Democrats had lost the health care message battle for months, barely answering absurd Republican charges of death, panels, health care for illegal aliens and similar charges.
But President Obama seems to have learned his lesson.
A financial regulation bill is now in the Senate and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell attacked quickly, charging the bill would continue big bank bailouts. All 41 Republican senators stated their opposition to the bill.
Obama didn't wait months this time. A few days after McConnell's charge, he counter attacked. He noted that McConnell made his statement right after meeting with Wall Street executives. Obama was tough. He was also funny, mocking the dour faced McConnell. Obama tackled banking executives directly at a speech in New York.
Compromise is fine, but Democrats know that the public is on their side. They will take full advantage and will not make the mistakes they made during the health care debate.
Republicans, conversely, have already started a retreat and are now talking about bi partisan legislation.
We can expect the Democratic Party, with Obama in the lead, to be aggressive for the rest of the year. The party will compromise with Republicans when it's to their advantage but will attempt to tag Republicans as obstructionists when opposed.
Republicans now seem as if they will win many Congressional seats in November--but they will have to fight hard for them. They will be less successful than now appears the case.
The Democratic theme is likely to be: Look what we've done for you lately and we're going to do more in the future.
It's going to be an interesting election.