Yes, he made lofty speeches, emotionally gripped the hands and shoulders of gun-crime victims, held dinners with Republicans and conservative Democrats whom he needed to pass a gun bill — all great theater, but great theater is rarely enough.
The truth is, Obama has serious coalition-management issues and lacks basic managerial competency. Tactically, he chose to act blustery and self-righteous while, strategically, he sought the path of least resistance in actual negotiations and willingly outsourced the details of legislative agreement to others.
All in all, he vastly underestimated how his tactics undermined his strategic goals.
That is an unnerving prospect for supporters of immigration reform as that proposal makes its way to the forefront of congressional debate.
Obama had everything he needed to get a gun bill passed — support in the polls, raw empathy for recent victims, Senate members willing to cross the aisle — yet he never dirtied his hands to get the job done.
“Obama is a great orator but a lousy convincer,” explained Steffen Schmidt, Iowa State University political science professor.
Schmidt said Obama “just does not have the skill set or the self-confidence to get into the Jell-O pit and wrestle with the members of his own party and a few Republicans to close the deal … another skill he doesn’t have is to log-roll and cut deals in a pragmatic way.”