Chess, not checkers

Figured I better get this last health care post-mortem post out before it was hopelessly dated.  One of my colleagues, Michael Struett, likes to say that Obama is playing chess while everyone else in Washington is playing checkers.  Great metaphor, and I think there's definitely something to it.  Here's a Slate article that fits with this theme in talking about how political futures markets perpetually make the mistake of selling Obama short:

Is there a larger lesson here? (Aside from the obvious one, which is
political futures markets usually aren't very good at predicting what
actually will happen in the future?) I think so. And it's this: Don't
short Obama. In fact, that's been the lesson of Obama's entire career so
far.

Think of Obama as a stock. When he came onto the national
scene, he was small and undercapitalized. Some investors (i.e., donors
and organizers) went long, but plenty of the heaviest hitters bet
against him. During the campaign, the prospects of his success were
continually downplayed by the Clintons, the national media, and the
Republicans.

Those
shorting the Obama candidacy got crushed. And since January 2009, so,
too, have those who have shorted the Obama presidency—especially the
performance of the markets and economy under Obama.

Political Scientist Seth Mesket convincingly frames this as "the post news cycle presidency:"

I think this is one great advantage that Obama has over the Clinton
administration and over current Republicans, who jump from one set of
talking points to the next.  He plays the long game.  He recognizes that
he and his party will be judged on their ability to deliver on a few
major things, and those things are produced through months, even years,
of patient pressure and negotiations, rather than daily spin wars.

Obama is very good at dealing with the media.  But perhaps a greater
strength is knowing when to ignore them. 

I think Mesket sums it up quite well.  That said, I think Struett's got the catchiest formulation with "chess, not checkers."

 

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