Trying out the anti-GOP narratives for 2010
The White House’s goal is to show voters that Mr. Obama is willing to engage Republicans rather than govern in a partisan manner while forcing Republicans to make substantive compromises or be portrayed as obstructionist given their renewed power to block almost all legislation in the Senate.
I think the idea may be to pressurize the Republican primary season, to pinch the moderates who face "conservative" challengers and tear at the centrist/tea party rift. The national folks will also be pressed in their endorsements.
I think these are the lessons of the NY-23, Virginia and NJ Gov, and Ma-Sen special elections. The Republicans who were allowed to float between centrist tea party without challenge, had a much easier go.