3 key insights about Obama from Chuck Todd's The Stranger

The slow death of earmarks may have actually tied the president's hands

Biden
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The image of himself on the cover of Chuck Todd's The Stranger might have seemed "lonely" to the president when he glanced across its cover at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. But inside, it's as good an account as you'll read about the first five years of his presidency, and it includes a number of insights that are helpful for unlocking the puzzle that is President Obama.

1. The slow death of earmarks is one significant and overlooked reason why the White House had (and has) fewer tools at its disposal to negotiate with Republicans and keep Democrats happy. Combine that with President Obama's distaste for schmoozing, which satisfies Congressional egos and goes a long way to bridge bridgeable gaps when it's done properly, and the president simply could not bring a full arsenal to the table. Obama's negotiating style — to identify common ground and then assume that the other side will proceed rationally from there — did not work in Washington.

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