For what it's worth, my advice for Obama is to forget the Republicans. Not literally, of course -- the new House leadership is going to make itself hard to ignore. But ultimately, it's the president who sets the agenda, and who ultimately is held accountable for America's successes and failures. Obama's focus should be on using all the tools at his disposal to move the country in the direction he believes it must go.
Progressives are right when they complain that the White House must do a much better job of making the case for its policies. But the challenge goes well beyond communications. Judging by the way they snubbed Obama's invitation to break bread together, Republicans seem eager for gridlock -- and the chance to blame the president for not getting anything done.
If I were President and those assholes had snubbed me like that, they would have arrived for lunch in the company of a couple large MPs each, whereupon they would have been served a nice lunch and been informed politely in my best drill field voice that an 'invitation' from the President is a summons, not an option.
Dessert would then be served along with a nice slide show of their future accommodations in a lovely sunny clime with gentle tropical breezes should they transgress again, with a gentle voice-over explaining how the Bush rule that the President decides who is an 'enemy of the people' is still very much in effect. Maybe just a coupla slides of a CIA Gulfstream with a nice, er, rendition of "They're Coming To Take Me Away".
Bipartisanship, much less capitulation as compromise, my ass.