Alinksy’s Rule #1: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Obama sometimes opens negotiations with such generous concessions that it’s hard to imagine what’s left in his pocket. After the debt-ceiling negotiations, there was a serious argument over whether he’d been outsmarted or had secretly wanted the Republicans to carry the deficit-cutting day. Either way, a cunning and committed Marxist poker player he’s not. And again in last night’s address, he made no attempt to intimidate and many to cajole.
2. Never go outside the expertise of your people. Given the problems facing the global economy on the day he was sworn in, that was never even an option.
3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. If Obama thinks of his political adversaries as “the enemy,’’ he’s done a better job of masking it than they have where he’s concerned.