But whose textbook would Obama have us follow instead? The one from England, where a parliamentary system (not to mention a monarch) injects a certain civility into the political machinery? Or maybe the one from the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, named "the world's happiest country," by a study measuring well-being.
Here in America, what Obama derides as "partisanship" is actually the way to untangle the gridlock in Washington.
That's what all those "change voters" care about. "Enough already," they're saying, "let's get something done!" After decades of split majorities, narrow majorities, and modest goals set by cautious administrations and Congress, robust legislative majorities and expert practitioners of partisan politics can achieve impressive results.
Imagine what a strong Democratic president and a strong Democratic Congress can do together. If you believe in partisan politics, as I do, it's an opportunity to build something unseen since Franklin Roosevelt – a government that works as a dynamic engine of change.
Partisanship has been a bad word in Washington ever since Ross Perot scared the Clinton White House by turning out millions of cranky, independent non-voters. Suddenly it was popular to be "postpartisan" and break the mold like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But both of these executives have to deal with a strongly Democratic legislature, and when they succeed, it's because of the way they end up playing that old game of politics.