Ezra is right to high light the importance considering Republican 'need' to 'oppose Obama' (even if it means pulling down Americans further). I am not sure 'bone headed' Daley and White House Political Team including Obama realize how 'toxic' they have become and as a corollary how beneficial it is for GOP to oppose Obama at all cost. But really if this White House wants anything to be done on ground, it must accord 'GOP reaction/reception' the higher priority than trying to portray Obama as a reasonable politician by starting with 'stale bi-partisan' policy prescriptions.
For sure when Obama proposes 'big ideas' as Ezra advocate; GOP would pounce on as 'here comes uncontrollable spender with yet another stimulus'. But after listening to GOP, downgrade still comes and we get pushed to another recession - that is what Americans have seen. So there is 're-examination of Tea Party policies' in air for Americans. With that background - propose big, get pounced, but in the end get something actually moved; that may not be a bad politics (while covering bases with Base).
This all requires throwing the Daley play-book of 'posing a reasonable' politician. I am not sure to what an extent Obama is ready for that. Until then 38% approval may look like a 'high bar'!