I'd be interested to see if Democrats play the same game [as the GOP did on health care reform]. If you have momentum, don't let the GOP off the hook. Characterize everything as renewed union-busting, the kissing cousin of the radical Scott Walker proposals (how do we know they're extreme? Because real, heartland Americans are protesting them!). No compromises, no mercy -- just hammer it home, day after day: Republicans want to hurt teachers, police officers, and firemen. They want only the middle class to sacrifice while the fatcats get tax breaks. On and on -- a drum beat of progressive fury that does to the GOP what the Tea Party did to us.
Of course, there were many voices within the Democratic Party during the health care debate that understood precisely what was happening, and urged Democrats to actually take a maximalist position. After all, if you're going to get blamed for it anyway, you might as well get some of the sweet with the bitter -- a genuinely ambitious, single-payer health care system. And one wonders if Republicans are keen enough to adopt this strategy -- if they're going to get raked over the coals regardless, they might as well please their corporate clients and blow up the unions.
I think that's precisely the dynamic we're seeing, up to and including the GOP's relatively greater savvy in taking the sweet with the bitter.
Of course, now the action turns to the recall election, where Wisconsin Democrats are hyper-energized. I think this could be a turning point for liberal fortunes in America. But I also think that, from a GOP anti-union perspective, they were right to pass this law. It's tougher to pass legislation than it is to undo it, and the reason you want legislative majorities is to pass legislation. When you get an opportunity, take it.
UPDATE: That being said, and again like with health care, it would have been wiser for Republicans to do this right away, rather than dither around about it. If you're going to go maximalist, you might as well do it right away. If you're not willing to compromise, then there's no point in waiting and letting the public mood sour on you.