Obama, ‘chessmaster’ outwitting Republicans

Obama, ‘chessmaster’ outwitting Republicans

Four years ago at this time, I was in the middle of writing what became a cover story with the (immodest) title “Obama, Explained.” In it, I examined whether the slow, understated, long-game approach of a one-term president about to run for re-election, whose critics blasted him for naivete and “leading from behind” while many of his allies considered him aloof and disengaged, should be considered that of a chessmaster—or of a pawn. Was Obama actually outwitting the Republicans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Congress that would approve or reject his efforts (and where his party had just lost 63 seats in the House), a variety of lobbyists, and others who opposed him? Or was he just getting rolled? …

But today, after the climate agreement in Paris, it would be wrong not to note three big things that have happened during his presidency that in all probability would not have happened without him:

  • The climate deal itself …
  • The rapprochement with Cuba…
  • The international agreement with Iran …

These things are not easy. Two hundred countries agreeing on anything! When two of the important ones are the United States and China! Plus Russia and India and Saudi Arabia… If you add to this the enactment of his health-care law you have to say: Agree or disagree with these objectives (and I know that many of Obama’s critics view every one of them as a stab in America’s back), this is not the work of a pawn.

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