OVERLY-NARROW EXPECTATIONS…. One of the more common observations made by Republicans on the Sunday shows yesterday was that President Obama appears to be moving towards the middle, but they won’t be satisfied until they see more concrete evidence.

Republican leaders said Sunday they are optimistic about President Obama’s apparent new focus on creating jobs and his “pivot” toward a more centrist approach to governing, but warned that he still must turn his words into actions.

“The president needs to pivot,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “He obviously saw what happened in the November election and is trying to go a different direction. He’s quit bashing business and is now celebrating business. … Let’s see if he’s really willing to do it.” […]

Mr. McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday” that Americans will learn during Mr. Obama’s speech Tuesday just “how much of this” the president really means, which puts people in a Reaganesque “trust but verify moment.”

We’ve heard quite a bit of this lately, but I’m still wondering when Republicans agree to “pivot” to a “more centrist approach,” too.

After the 2006 cycle, did Republicans “pivot”? How about after the 2008 elections? Last year, voters elected a Democratic Senate for the third consecutive cycle, did McConnell and his GOP colleagues conclude that it’s time to “pivot”? How about this year, with polls showing the president’s support growing, and Americans preferring the White House’s vision to Republicans’?

I continue marvel at the expectations: President Obama, we’re told, is supposed to take steps to prove his moderation and commitment to working with Republicans, even while the GOP keeps moving to the right, even as Republicans show no similar commitment in the other direction.

There are all kinds of things congressional Republicans can do to demonstrate their willingness to work with a Democratic Senate majority and the Democratic White House. The GOP can prove its moderation and its commitment to break with its record of failure.

And yet, this seems to be missing entirely from the conversation, with an exclusive focus on whether Obama is meeting the GOP’s (and much of the media’s) demands for a “shift to the center.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.