Three years after pledging a new era of post-partisan cooperation, President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared war with congressional Republicans by unilaterally installing his nominee to head a new consumer protection bureau.

And the White House sees only political gold in doing so…

In one fell swoop, Obama managed to tap into voter frustration with Washington, distance himself from an unpopular Congress, buck up the liberal base and reassert himself as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt, fighting for a “fair deal” for the middle class. He even stole some of the spotlight from Republicans a day after the Iowa caucuses…

The biggest payoff, ultimately, might be the backlash against the right. Polls show the vast majority of voters back more stringent consumer protection, forcing the GOP to oppose what most Americans view as a simple issue of fairness. Last July, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake found that more than seven in 10 likely independent voters and Republicans support tougher regulations on Wall Street.