I am beginning to think that there is one guy in DC playing chess and the rest are playing checkers (or perhaps tic tac toe). Obama may dither or it may be that he prefers to let others set the stage and entrap themselves. While I did not watch the speech last night (too tired), the coverage today seems to be pretty clear: the Republicans looked like fools (not the good kind of fool in Chris Moore's latest book that I just started). Nothing makes Obama look more Presidential, more moderate, and more reasonable than the juxtaposition of blackberry-tapping, fer-shaming, "You lie"-ing with the speaker of our time.
In conversations last week at APSA, I was kind of wishful thinking that Obama was setting a trap for the Republicans. I am not sure whether this was really deliberate, but perhaps Obama is the shrewdest opportunist of them all. He could not have anticipated how nutso the GOP would act, but I think he is now reveling in it. As Bill Clinton learned when Newt Gingrich shut down government, being the reasonable one is a powerful position.
Of course, health care reform is still going to be very difficult (as noted by Machiavelli). However, I am now pretty sure that Obama understands that there are larger games being played here, and he plans to win the big ones, even if he has to sacrifice the occasional piece along the way.