When presidents succeed in presiding over great change, they do so by recognizing an existing opportunity, not squeezing one from the stone of existing opposition.The way I've been saying it is that Obama is trying to get the rest of us energized and moving toward whatever it is we want. We are the people, after all, and he can't and shouldn't be doing it alone.
Add in something I've seen mentioned in several places the last week or so, that he's avoiding making himself any more of a Republican target than a mixed-race Democratic president is anyway by avoiding Big Pronouncements of the type that most commentators would like. And they'd probably like those Big Pronouncements so they can find something wrong with them, too.
Removing this kind of target from the Republicans has forced them back on themselves into crazier and crazier territory.