Exposed: The White House's professor-in-chief

Panetta confirms what has been whispered about for years—that Obama shows “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.” The president often “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader,” Panetta writes. In reflecting on the president’s habit of bitching privately about obstructionist Republicans without cleverly confronting them, he notes that Obama “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

Panetta is particularly concerned that Obama didn’t fight harder on the sequestration cuts that Panetta believes were harmful to national defense. But the criticism, now hardening into the conventional wisdom among Democrats, also applies to a variety of other issues, where the president had a habit of leading the Democratic troops into battle with a few speeches but not adopting the single piece of advice Oliver Wendell Holmes gave Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first week in office: “Form your battalion and fight.”