Obama's big problem, I think, is that he is no longer the president he said he would be. Above all, he's stopped trying to be that president.
That, I believe, is crucial. You had Obama the compagainer of hope and change, and then Obama the president whose policies continue many of Bush II's.
The astonishing enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 rested heavily on his promise to change Washington and unify the country. You can argue about whose fault it is that Washington is even more paralyzed by tribal fighting than before--in my view, it's mostly (though not entirely) the GOP's fault. For whatever reason, Obama failed to bring the change he promised. That would be forgivable, so long as he was determined to keep trying. But he isn't determined to keep trying. His campaign message so far boils down to this: You just can't work with these people. I tried, they're not interested, so it's war. If they want bitter partisan politics, they can have it.
My instinct tells me this is a losing strategy.
To me it seems so obviously the wrong strategy, in fact, that I struggle to understand what Obama's people can be thinking. The fact that Republicans refuse to compromise is not, tactically speaking, a problem for the Democrats, but a wonderful opportunity.