Brad Delong speculates:
I think the White House's reply [to liberals about the last two years] would look something like this:Successful governance is about getting 60 votes for things that move the ball forward. The people who tend to control the 55th through 60th votes on any given issue are not like you and me. They are driven by a baffling combination of raging egomania and crippling terror.[T]he liberal reply to this would be:
They want to be treated like statesmen even as their decisions are based on a paralyzing fear of contested elections, primary challenges, Fox News and party pressure. They have few opinions on what good policy looks like, what opinions they do have on the subject change frequently, and they're not willing to risk very much on them anyway.
Taking a pound of flesh from these people--or even their allies--would mean never getting their votes...Yes, you're right that these people are driven by fear. But they're afraid of the wrong thing.
You have senators in states that went blue in 2008 who seem unconcerned with crossing the president or his massive list of volunteers and supporters. Instead, they're terrified of the Club for Growth, or Fox News, or they're terrified of them not because they have so much power in their state but because they're willing to use that power aggressively.
If the president had been making frequent trips to Maine, he might find that Maine's senators were a little more interested in partnering with him on his agenda.