John Harris and Jim VandeHei, Politico‘s head honchos, have a meaty piece up today about President Obama and his ability to play the press “like a fiddle.”

They talk about his turnaround in the polls and the newfound love pundits have for him, citing TIME‘s Mark Halperin, ABC News’s Christiane Amanpour, and HuffPost Howard Fineman, three of the many who have had glowing things to say about the president.

How did Obama use the media to make his comeback? He embraced bipartisanship, respected Washington culture, rituals, and operatives, and addressed the deficit, among other things. But really what he’s done is to play right into what the Washington media likes. Undoubtedly, Harris and VandeHei know a thing or two about Washington reporters and pundits. So what should we know?

Harris and VandeHei say this about a liberal slant in the mainstream media: “It’s just not true. The majority of political writers we know might more accurately be accused of centrist bias” and they love to write about bipartisanship.

“Reporters are suckers for comparisons…between current and past presidents.” They “love hearing Obama talk with a furrowed brow about the grave threat” of a massive deficit, and they “love stories about the internal wars in both parties,” which Obama has encouraged by “winding up the wing-nuts.”

Update #1: A White House reporter writes in, “Hard to take the VandeHarris seriously today when they’re coming off a two-week run of almost daily Obama as Reagan stories.”

Update #2: Another Washington reporter bothered by VandeHarris’ story. This one plays off Mike Allen‘s “Playbook” features by writing a “shot” and “chaser.”

SHOT
“Reporters are suckers for comparisons — often glib or even bogus comparisons — between current and past presidents.” – Today’s story

CHASER(S)
Why Obama can’t shake Bush
By Ben Smith and John F. Harris – 12/8/2010
Read here.
Can Barack Obama pull a Bill Clinton?
By John F. Harris – 11/4/2010
Read here.
Clinton years hold clues for Obama
By John F. Harris – 1/22/2010
Read here.