I am no fan of Andrew Sullivan, but here I think he’s seeing something that seems to elude others:
… given the enormity of what he inherited, and given what he explicitly promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obamaâ€™s long gameâ€”and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this countryâ€™s future as his original election in 2008.
Sullivan argues that the President has a pattern:
To use the terms Obama first employed in his inaugural address: the president begins by extending a hand to his opponents; when they respond by raising a fist, he demonstrates that they are the source of the problem; then, finally, he moves to his preferred position of moderate liberalism and fights for it without being effectively tarred as an ideologue or a divider. This kind of strategy takes time. And it means there are long stretches when Obama seems incapable of defending himself, or willing to let others to define him, or simply weak. I remember those stretches during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. I also remember whose strategy won out in the end.
What liberals have never understood about Obama is that he practices a show-donâ€™t-tell, long-game form of domestic politics. What matters to him is what he can get done, not what he can immediately take credit for. And so I railed against him for the better part of two years for dragging his feet on gay issues. But what he was doing was getting his Republican defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to move before he did. The man who made the case for repeal of â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ was, in the end, Adm. Mike Mullen. This took timeâ€”as did his painstaking change in the rule barring HIV-positive immigrants and touristsâ€”but the slow and deliberate and unprovocative manner in which it was accomplished made the changes more durable. Not for the first time, I realized that to understand Obama, you have to take the long view. Because he does.
It’s an interesting analysis, and I’d like to know what you think of it.
BTW, this piece apparently is being featured in the new issue of Newsweek and the cover blurb asks “Why are Obama’s critics so dumb?” This has drawn much ire from rightie bloggers, who assume “Obama’s critics” are all on the Right.