Since November, Barack Obama has transformed himself from "one sad sack of a president" to "the master of the moment," say John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei at Politico. His poll numbers are on the upswing, pundits are applauding, and even once-dismissive Republicans concede that he is "Washington's dominant figure." How has Obama accomplished this impressive feat? By "playing the press like a fiddle." Here's an excerpt:
Reporters are suckers for comparisons — often glib or even bogus comparisons — between current and past presidents. Obama and aides did not much like this habit when he was being regularly compared to Jimmy Carter.
But in recent weeks Obama has managed to turn the history game to his advantage by ostentatiously inviting comparisons to two more successful presidents: Reagan and Clinton. Neither got terrific coverage while president. Both are viewed in retrospect as effective two-term presidents who survived and prospered during their time in Washington.
Obama was seen carrying a copy of Lou Cannon’s Reagan biography under his arm on vacation. And his aides have happily played along with stories drawing links between the two — despite oceanwide differences in ideology, temperament, intellectual habits, personal history and rhetorical style.
In the category of You Can't Make It Up, weeks of stories and columns about the comparison culminated with this cover of Time magazine — "Why Obama Loves Reagan" — and a manufactured picture of the two men side by side, smiling optimistically.