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The real Barack Obama
What Obama's first three weeks in office have revealed

"It is still early in the Obama era," said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post, but the president's deferral to the Democratic congressional leadership on the initial shape of the stimulus package is a bad sign. It made him look like a pragmatist with no real "guiding vision."

Republicans thought they were scoring points by "bad-mouthing" Obama's economic plan, said Bob Herbert in The New York Times. But "Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike." So while his opponents were busy trashing him, Obama focused on the best stimulus he could achieve, and how to get there.

"Please," said Tom Bevan in RealClearPolitics. "Only a slavish sycophant like Herbert can take what was unquestionably a bumbling, error-filled week for Obama and recast it as the work of a political Bobby Fischer." Obama had to go on the road to peddle his stimulus package because he was clearly "a move or two behind" in the game.

These last three weeks have given the nation an idea who "the real Barack Obama" is, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. "He turns out to be both a conciliator and a fighter." When a compromise will work, the president is all for it, but he also "wants his adversaries to know that his easygoing style does not make him a pushover."

One thing Obama is not, said David Keene in The Hill, is the optimist he portrayed in the campaign. In his attempt to scare America into supporting his stimulus plan, Obama has "given us everything but the exact date on which the world will end." And his idea of compromise is doing things his way—not exactly what people thought they were getting on election day.

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