The protracted health care battle looks to have taught the White House something about power, says presidential historian Gil Troy — a lesson that will inform Obama’s pursuit of his initiatives going forward. “I think that Obama realizes that presidential power is a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets,” Troy says. “He exercised that power and had a success with health care passage, and now he wants to make sure people realize it’s not just a blip on the map.”…
One of the questions that has trailed Obama is how he would deal with criticism and the prospect of failure, says Troy, a McGill University history professor and visiting scholar affiliated with the bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
“He is one of those golden boys who never failed in his life, and people like that are often not used to criticism and failure,” Troy says. Obama and his campaign were temporarily knocked for a loop early in the 2008 presidential campaign by then-GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s “zingers,” Troy says, “and Obama was thrown off balance again by the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat.”
The arc of the health care debate reminded observers that Obama is not just a product of Harvard, but also of tough Chicago politics, Troy says.
“You don’t travel as far and as fast as Barack Obama without having a spine of steel,” he says. “He has an ability to regenerate, to come back, and knows that there is no such thing as a dirty win: a win is a win” — even if it infuriates the progressive wing of the president’s party, which wanted far more sweeping changes to the nation’s health care system….
But observers like Troy say they believe that though initially unrelated, a boost in employment among Americans would encourage voters to look more favorably on the health care overhauls. “The perceived success of health care legislation rides on job creation,” Troy says….