Now that I’ve had the opportunity to watch Obama’s moves over the last few weeks on the stimulus bill, I’ve drawn some reasoned conclusions about how shrewd this man named Obama is.

While it’s true that Republicans have been dominating the debate in the mainstream media from a decibel perspective, the most recent Gallup poll reveals that Americans have come to strongly disapprove of the way Congressional Republicans are handling the crisis and give Obama high marks for his approach.

What does this tell us? Think back to a year ago when Obama was being routinely counseled by partisan hacks and the mainstream media to “take the gloves off” against Clinton and McCain. Remember how many times Obama was flying under the radar only to ultimately hand his opponents a neverending series of trouncings?

The simple fact is that Obama is a once-in-a-generation political virtuoso who is able to think many moves ahead in the complicated game he is engaged in. As someone said to me recently, Obama is playing three-dimensional chess while we’re still stuck playing checkers.

Almost without fail, Obama has time and again proven himself more shrewd and astute in the game of politics than any of the tired partisan hacks that control the media spigots of “conventional wisdom” and misinformation.

People on the left who are worked into a frenzy about how supposedly muted Obama has been at times over the last few weeks need to take a deep breath and give him a chance to prove himself to us.

Chances are, Obama is going to make all them sound pretty tone-deaf once he unveils yet another unexpected checkmate.

Update: Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s take, which I think is exactly right:

One feels exactly as one did in the primaries as his occasional drifts against Clinton led to a chorus of attacks from the base that he was being too much of a wimp, too defensive, too polite. My gut is to advise him to let rip. But Obama’s brain is often shrewder than many guts. From a long-term strategic perspective, even the critics are already entrenching the central meme that Obama has tried to bring as many people on board as possible. They are doing his work for him. If his core identity has been established as genuine and conciliatory – something Bill Clinton, fairly or unfairly, failed to achieve – then he can make a good faith case for his bill on its merits, not on the demerits of his opponents. The case is more effective if people don’t interpret it as partisan. And since I suspect the case is very strong, that’s his long-term advantage.

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  1. Peg Chun says:

    Exactly right. Try as they might, but the old memes and hypnotic robotic discouraged stupors are not effective vehicles from here on out. Obama woke us up! Rather than intentionally disabling and disenfranchising the citizenry to make manipulating them easier, Obama's ultimately superior approach is both encouraging and empowering….the CATALYTIC LEADER par excellence. Obama is systematically showing and teaching all of us that HOPE and INTEGRITY and INTELLIGENCE and REASONABLENESS and HONOR actually are effective and practical and popular with the majority of our citizens….and citizens of other countries as well. I wonder when McCain etc. will decide to flip positions and copy this approach as well. Didn't take much time during the election for him to adopt Obama's positions and approaches as his own. Okay with me! Just do it.

  2. Nyck says:

    Osama: HUGE WIN
    Public Option/MediCare buy-in: fail
    Health Care premium stability: fail
    End of Bush tax cuts: fail
    End of Too Big to Fail: fail

    Yes to the fact that Obama deserves huge credit for his efforts to get Osama -- he insisted on Pakistan while Bush/McCain/Petraeus yelled about Iraq being the “central battleground in the WoT.”

    I like Obama, think he has great ideas & think he’d run a country very well if he had no opposition. However, he is THE WORST negotiator I’ve ever seen. He goes in with the reasonable compromise as his first bid, then shifts farther and farther right because he’s too afraid to look liberal. My examples above were not liberal ideals -- don’t expect universal health care or taxes for the rich higher than Clinton levels. These are all supported by the American public by 60-80%. Obama gives them lip-service but he did not fight for them, and we got weak HC reform, weaker financial reform and 38 billion in cuts when the Republicans initial goal was 34 billion.

    Obama is very smart, but “the complicated game he is engaged in” is first and foremost getting re-elected. Rahm’s strategy (which continues today) was to seize the middle, while ignoring the “fucking retarded” base that donated to, worked for, & elected Obama (based on the idea that we have nowhere else to go).

    Seriously, on financial matters, Obama and most Dems are the Washington Generals. They pretend to fight but are designed to lose. He appoints Geithner & Bernanke and stacks his deficit commission with a great majority of Republicans that advise him to cut entitlements, instead of insisting that we are entitled to them because that’s our money -- we paid into it all this time. His administration knows to keep the system as is so Dems get donations, though Obama’s pledges to change the system.

    Seems like the Republicans are doing their own 3-D chess by successfully saying no to all these matters, getting ACORN eliminated, and helping out their corporate overlords even though they have only have the rich few and the most gullible/fearful 30% behind them.

    Let’s hope this bump gives Obama some balls to actually reject Republican talking points, instead of just hoping to be accepted by them.

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