With the repeal of DADT, some of the talking heads are starting to recognize Obama's long game.
Andrew Sullivan has seen it for a while now. Here's how he described it on another issue.
My point is rather that he has a clear pattern of behavior that is acutely tuned to the longterm. He lets things take their course. Rather than tipping his hand early and decisively, he tends to hang back, aloof, distant, watching. Only when events have occurred that have proven the pointlessness of options he doesn't favor does he forthrightly present his own. And quite often, he almost seems intent on orchestrating such public failures of others' (and his own apparent) options - even at his own short-term cost.
More particularly related to DADT repeal is this by Greg Sargent.
Obama had been criticized for months on don't ask don't tell, with advocates complaining that his administration aggressively defended DADT in court and that he wasn't doing enough to rally the Senate to pass repeal. But the botton line is that the White House did everything possible to create the political climate necessary to make this happen. The Pentagon report and the testimony by Robert Gates -- and his public round of interviews calling on Congress to pass repeal for the good of the military -- were major game-changers.
"Creating the political climate necessary to make this happen" is something too many political observers don't take into consideration. What Obama has seen is that historically, failing to do so can lead to temporary victories and a tremendous amount of backlash. He's playing the long game though - staying the course even through the hysteria of people who want instant gratification. He's got his eye on the North Star and recognizes that slow and steady wins the race.
And finally, there's Rachel Maddow.
I think that politically, though, the thing to not lose touch of, to not lose touch with here, this is the President's victory. The President took a lot of criticism, a lot of abuse, a lot of skepticism from his otherwise most loyal supporters on this. But this is an issue on which the President did not waver. He continually insisted that this was possible. That it would get done.
It, in fact, was not possible for the President to do this through Executive action. This is something that had to happen legislatively if it was really going to happen in a definitive way.
The President did not waver. He DID work on the Senate to get this to happen. He insisted that this was possible against a lot of people, including me, saying it was not possible.
The abuse Obama took over this one was his insistence that DADT be ended legislatively rather than through Executive action or through the courts. People like Maddow didn't think that was possible - and they let him know it.
While Obama never wavered on his commitment to end DADT, many people questioned that because he had a different strategy - one that created the opening for definitive long-term change. I would hope that his critics take notice.