Didn't the democrats pretty much say after the last election that they didn't want want to work with the GOP. I'm sure being told they didn't matter by Pelosi after the last election pissed them off.
I don't ever recall them saying that, in fact they've repeatedly said the opposite even though that's more media posturing and grandstanding than a true desire to do so (in my opinion).
Bipartisanship is a buzzword: politicians known that the American public salivates whenever that term is employed, so they want desperately to appear to want it as well when all any politician really wants is to get their policies enacted (that's the whole point of being an elected official to begin with), which really has very little to do with bipartisanship (if anything that's a hurdle to their agenda).
The lesson that the Pelosi/Reid congress has failed to learn, in my opinion, is that trying to negotiate with people that are more interested in scoring political points so that they can marginalize your power base is a wasted effort. The Democrats have focused far too much on trying to get things done no matter what the cost (in principles and political capital), and not enough on standing up for what they fundamentally believe in.
Example: In the stimulus they tried to invoke Keynesian Economic Policy, which I think works (which is evident by looking at history) if evoked in earnest and carefully executed. Instead of doing this like a third of the bill ended up as tax cuts; tax cuts are not
part of the Keynesian Economic Stimulus playbook. They were shown to be vastly less effective by the calculations of economists at the time, and the Dems still
wasted a third of the resources on that.
The Democrats simply do not have the balls to argue their case forcefully enough to actually seem like real politicians. They do things then spend a long time explaining why in a very weak way, take the Bank Bailout for example. None of them will say, "yes the American people don't like it but the facts show that it saved our economy, and I'd do it again if need be." Americans admire that kind of confidence not the whole, "well, we didn't really want to do it... but we felt we had to" rhetoric.
The Democrats are completely spineless and don't seem to understand that victories won in the Senate do not happen only during voting time. If they'd pushed the issue and made the Republicans stand up and filibuster all of the times they threatened to, we would not be here today, the media would've had a grand old time showing them time and time again blocking the power of the elected majority and it would've meant major blowback.
When it comes down to it, it's pointless to try and please everyone. Republicans are going to hate Democratic policies basically no matter what the Democrats do: they're largely convinced that FDR was failure, how exactly would any current President actually impress them other than by doing exactly what they want done? The Democrats need to worry about their base and independents, and independents just want to see the Dems actually making an effort to get things done with measure and poise; something that congress seems to be lacking entirely.