Obama is too cool for crisis management

Even so, the failure is mostly Obama’s. It didn’t require extraordinary foresight to anticipate the public freakout once the infection spread beyond Duncan. Obama, who’s better acquainted with Washington dysfunction than anybody, should have anticipated the partisan acrimony. The crisis required more of him than he seemed to recognize. But he was hampered by the same things that have plagued him all along: a liberal technocrat’s excess of faith in government’s ability to solve problems and an unwillingness or inability to demonstrate the forcefulness Americans expect of their president in an emergency.
 
 
It’s hard not to suspect that Obama’s lack of executive experience before becoming president is one reason why he often struggles to strike the right tone. In this way, he’s the opposite of the man who preceded him. “I still remember where I was when Bush took the bullhorn at Ground Zero,” Axelrod says. He was recalling one of the great moments of presidential theater, when George W. Bush climbed atop the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks. “I can hear you,” Bush shouted to the cheering rescue workers. “The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” In a stroke, Bush galvanized the nation.

Obama recoils from this kind of bravado—and bravado didn’t always serve Bush so well. (A certain flight suit comes to mind.) It also deserted him at critical moments like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But replacing the impulse and emotion that governed Bush with a fealty to experts has led Obama to develop blind spots of his own.