In the wake of the stimulus bill agreemenet in Congress, the New York Times leans heavily on the yes/but angle regarding what it means politicially for the new president [emphasis added]:
It is a quick, sweet victory for the new president, and potentially a historic one. The question now is whether the $789 billion economic stimulus plan agreed to by Congressional leaders on Wednesday is the opening act for a more ambitious domestic agenda from President Obama or a harbinger of reduced expectations. Both the substance of his first big legislative accomplishment and the way he achieved it underscored the scale of the challenges facing the nation and how different a political climate this is from the early stages of recent administrations.
As we recently noted, the way the Beltway press has traditionally judged a new president was, could he get his legislative initiatves passed? But with Obama, that's morphed into, can he get his initiatives passed in a certain way? i.e. Could he pass his plan and make Republicans happy. Because if Republicans are not happy with the stimulus plan, than Obama has failed. Again, this is a press standard that's been created for Obama, and Obama only.
The Times stresses, "His inability to win over more than a handful of Republicans amounted to a loss of innocence...So this was hardly a moment for cigars."
This was all telegraphed weeks ago. For instance, The Hill had already announced, "If the bill is approved by Congress with minimal GOP support, the partisan nature of how the legislation got to his desk will be a key storyline when Obama signs the measure."
Who will determine that "key storyline"? The Beltway press corps, of course.
UPDATE: Leave it to ABC's The Note to succinctly capture the prevailing Betlway inanities. In this case, the yes/but talking point:
Few presidents have been able to claim a victory of this magnitude, in scope and sweep, this early in a presidency...But this is a victory that's stocked with the possibility of losses.
Do you follow? By any historical marker the bill is a victory. But there's the possibility it might not be.