I think it was Andrew Sullivan who first started using the term rope-a-dope - borrowed, of course, from Ali's famous fight against Foreman - to describe Obama's extraordinary resilience. During the long fight with Hillary Clinton, Obama displayed a huge capacity for soaking up political punishment without falling out cold. He did the same in the general when John McCain was on the offensive. As the whole world screams at him to either punch back or give up, he keeps calm, plays defence, makes a few under-the-radar moves - and before you know it, his opponents are exhausted, throwing wild punches and tripping over their own shoelaces. At which point he cleans up. Obama doesn't just fox his opponents with this strategy; he throws the media off-balance too. It's not easily shaped into a conventional "narrative", this approach. Defeats and victories aren't quite what they seem. One day, you just wake up and realise that Obama has a tally of delegates that isn't going to be overtaken. Or, as Jonathan Chait explains in his excellent post, you wake up - after months of commentators telling us that Obama is blowing it on healthcare, of his enemies crowing and his supporters wailing - and realise that healthcare reform is going to happen:
It’s very strange. We’ve had months of sturm and drang, and massive attention focused on the question, Whither health care reform? It’s just quietly turned into a fait accompli.