A couple of times I've joked about having a "mind meld" with President Obama that has allowed me to predict when something is up...like I did recently when he had a convo with David Simon. But I'll let you in on my secret. It's not about a mind meld or even being a "smartypants." It's just about paying attention.
A lot of people in the media miss a story like this because they're lazy. I've seen a couple of articles (here's the worst) about the President's recent commutations and they all zero in on a narrative that was started a long time ago about him being stingy with clemency. All that was required to adopt that narrative was counting.
But if you read the President and Attorney General's comments when they kicked off the Clemency Initiative, you knew what had held things up in the beginning and what they were doing to change the process. It was inevitable that - before his second term was over - there were going to be some big announcements. Furthermore, if you pay attention to what the White House said about this announcement, you know there are more to come.
The other thing I paid attention to a long time ago might seem difficult to connect with this story. But hang in there and I'll get to the point.
A couple of years ago reporter Michael Lewis spent six months shadowing President Obama. That resulted in a long-read article titled: Obama's Way. Included in it were all kinds of little and big stories about how Barack Obama approaches his job as POTUS.
One little thing I found interesting is that he only has a couple of choices for what he wears. His reasoning is that his days are so busy and full of demanding/difficult decisions, he doesn't want to waste time on his attire. Overall, he limits any kind of distraction that would sap the energy he needs to do the job.
Paying attention to that, it makes sense that he wouldn't sit down and videotape a conversation with someone like David Simon just for kicks (as much as he might enjoy that). Everything this man does on the job has a strategic purpose - even the fun stuff.
So that's my big secret. Ultimately, understanding President Obama simply means paying attention...something too many in the media are too lazy to do.