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Friday, November 1, 2013

Must Read by Jonah Goldberg - Obama: The Myth of the Master Strategist

Often in error but never in doubt, Barack Obama could walk into the Rose Garden and step on a half-dozen rakes like Foghorn Leghorn in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, and the official line would be, “He meant to do that.”

And the amazing thing is that so many people believe it. “Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He’s smart, deft, elegant and subtle,” proclaimed then–New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in 2009. It’s an image of the president that his biggest fans, in and out of the press, have been terribly reluctant to relinquish — because it confirms the faith they invested in him. Nobody ever likes to admit they were suckered.

If Obama were a chess master — or even a fairly adept checkers novice — he would have known that when you’re not ready to do something incredibly important, it’s best to buy time. He could have traded a delay (three months? six months?) for some major budget concessions, maybe even lifting the sequester. Perhaps his base wouldn’t have liked it, but he could have easily spun the compromise as a necessity given how irrational and “extreme” the GOP was being.

Publicly he’d say he was paying a ransom to “kidnappers” and “hostage takers.” He’d denounce Republicans for delaying precious insurance coverage for sick kids and frail oldsters just to score partisan and ideological points.

But privately, ah, privately, the master strategist would be stroking his proverbial white cat — or, in reality, his hypoallergenic black dog — while breathing a sigh of relief that he bought himself some time to fix his woefully mangled health-care reform.

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