A couple of things jump out at me from President Obama's latest (and last) interview with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. The first is that in interview settings, Obama is not the most compelling advocate for his own policies and record. He's just too incorrigibly wonkish to connect with a broad range of people.
The second thing is Obama's consistent emphasis on the long term and gradual reform. It reinforces the assessment of Obama made by the US political analyst Josh Marshall last week, in which he disputes the emerging conventional wisdom that Obama is in a hurry to set his legacy in place:
When I look at Obama I don't see a President desperately trying to cram legacy achievements into the declining months of his presidency. I see achievements coming to fruition that were usually years in the making but often seemed errant or quixotic and uncertain in their outcome.
Marshall's take is not original. Andrew Sullivan was one of the first to identify that Obama has from the very beginning of his presidency had an eight-year agenda, and that he plays a long game. Further evidence emerges overnight in the form of this report saying that Obama is on the verge of finally fulfilling his 2008 election promise to close Guantanamo Bay. Yes, Obama has had a stellar month, but as his former campaign adviser David Axelrod says (my emphasis):
...he’s had the most productive period he’s enjoyed since the first two years: Cuba, the climate agreement with China, action on immigration, fast track on trade, the SCOTUS decisions on health care and marriage and now this agreement on Iran. These are big, historically significant developments, in most cases the culmination of years of commitment on his part.
Obama has one major international agenda item left, and that is climate change. On this issue, says the Wall St Journal, the President is on a long march to Paris, which will host global climate talks in December. That would certainly fit the pattern.