He's right about the following:
The psychology of victory and defeat is a remarkable thing. A week ago, the Democrats were perceived to have an enormous political problem. Their agenda was stalled in Congress. There was a mass groundswell of public anger they had to contend with.Chait's right about that. The Village respects a winner, until they can construct the narrative that the current winners are losers. However, the problem is Chait's still missing the larger point on the GOP themselves:
Suddenly those problems have been flipped on their head. Now Democrats don't have a problem because they can't pass anything, Republicans have a problem because they're obstructing everything. Whereas right-wing grassroots activism represented a public backlash against the Democrats, it's now seen as an extremist element that discredits the GOP. Political reporters are starting to construct a seamless narrative connecting the over-the-top rhetoric from GOP and conservative leaders, the unusual acts of obstructionism and legislative retribution (like canceling unrelated hearings as revenge for health care reform), and sporadic vandalism and threats of violence. For example, see Dana Milbank's column today.
We should keep a couple things in mind here. Just as the emotion of the moment exaggerated Democrats' panic and fear of action, the emotion of the moment is casting the Republican strategy in the worst possible light. It's not exactly a parallel situation, because Republicans are far less responsive than Democrats to mainstream media narratives. Still, Republicans are going to consider the strategy of refusing to engage Democrats in a different light in the wake of passing health care reform than they would have if the Democrats had fallen a few votes shy in the House.I call complete bullshit on that. The Republicans are doing what they always do when losing: double down to attack the Dems. If they had defeated this measure, they would still be doing the exact same thing they are now: calling the Dems traitors, encouraging the fringe elements to rise up, and refusing to work with the Democrats on any legislation. In fact, we'd be hearing that the Republican strategy of Party of No was exactly what America wanted them to do, and that they should do everything they can to obstruct the Democrats even more than they were.
Chait's mistake is that he still considers the Republican leadership as rational actors that make rational decisions. They aren't. All they care about is destroying Obama...that should be self-evident by now.