Saturday, July 18, 2015

Barack Obama’s Long Game

A month of victories has transformed the president’s second term.

By TODD S. PURDUM, Poltico.com
July 16, 2015

Barack Obama is not a modest man, but when it comes to assessing his or any president’s place in the long American story, he has been heard to say, “We just try to get our paragraph right.” Yet the way a raft of recent events have broken sharply in his favor, Obama suddenly seems well on his way to writing a whole page—or at least a big, fat passage—in the history books.

From the Supreme Court decisions upholding his signature health care plan and the right of gay Americans to marry, to contested passage of fast track trade authority, the opening of normal diplomatic relations with Cuba and an international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Obama is on a policy and political roll that would have seem unimaginable to many in Washington only a few months ago.

“Obama may be singular as a president, not only because of his striking background,” says Kenneth Adelman, who was Ronald Reagan’s arms control negotiator with the Soviets three decades ago, and who has his doubts about the Iran deal. “It may turn out that unlike virtually any other president, his second term is actually better than his first.”

Rallying his cabinet in January in the wake of the Democratic Party’s decisive defeat in last fall’s midterm elections, Obama himself maintained, “Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.” This president has always been something of a clutch player, but his command of recent events—from his soaring eulogy for the victims of the Charleston church massacre, to his commutation of more sentences for non-violent criminal offenders than any president since Franklin Roosevelt—goes a good way toward proving the prescience of his words.

(More here.)

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