I think what inflames Republican senators more than anything is Obama’s capacity to draw true feelings of empathy and concern out of them (thus throwing them into heightened, if momentary conflict with their hard-baked selves). Obama does it just often enough to keep them both off balance and on notice — the way he did last night intentionally singing out Ted Kennedy’s legislative partnerships with Grassley, Hatch and, in the very instant above, McCain.
By the way, I’ve read very little about the profound risk and, yes, audacity, of Obama daring to convene a joint session of Congress over health care — especially while perceived to be back on his heels. (And, because he stuck it last night, I don’t we’re going to.) The strategy, however, was vintage Obama in perfect tune with his “keep your enemies closer.”
And, to the extent he was in the Republican’s face last night — dangling carrots and swinging sticks at an alternately dizzying pace, the national audience in witness — he demonstrated that August, almost universally acknowledged as a set-back, was as much Obama letting out the rope for a repressed and tea bag-infused GOP to hang itself.
(screen shot: BNN via MSNBC)