One of the strange conceits Beltway pundits have is that most politicians actually give a fig about policy outside of how it affects their political prospects. Consider this from Ezra Klein:
So far, the lame-duck session has managed to pass an $850 billion tax-cuts-and-stimulus deal, the repeal of DADT, the Defense Authorization bill, a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government, the START treaty, the food-safety bill, and probably a few more pieces of legislation I'm forgetting. [. . .] The question is why the Republicans didn't just drag their feet and let things expire and then come back to everything in 2011,The answer, I think, is that there are plenty of Senate Republicans who aren't too comfortable with the class of conservatives who got elected in 2010.
The answer actually is that Republicans took credit for the things that help them politically (tax cuts, stopping the spending bill) and avoided blame for things they do not want to be attributed to them. Let's consider Ezra's list of "accomplishments:
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