President Obama went on a three-state tour to promote his State of the Union agenda. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
During the heat of last year's presidential race, Mitt Romney declared, "I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite."
The statement sums up the Republican Party's strategy in dealing with President Obama. Without regard to the substance of the policy, the best politics is usually to just oppose the president.
During President Obama's first term, Democrats were genuinely mystified at how they ended up supporting a health care reform package which was once largely developed and championed by Republicans and yet got absolutely no Republican support.
But GOP lawmakers were just reacting to what their constituents wanted: do the opposite.
The same thing is happening in the immigration reform debate. A new Washington Post poll finds that 60 percent of Republican voters support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But when respondents are told that President Obama backs the measure, support among Republicans drops to just 39 percent.
And we're reminded again of the GOP's opposite strategy when President Obama picked a conservative Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, to be the nation's next defense secretary. His nomination is hopelessly stalled in the Senate as Republicans mount a filibuster against him.
If Obama wants to get something done in his second term, he might consider reverse psychology and propose the opposite of what he really wants. Republicans will unknowingly turn into his biggest allies.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
Subscribe to the Week