The president has a bristling resistance to what he sees as cheap emotion. (See: flag pin, 2008.) That has led him, time after time, to respond belatedly or bloodlessly in moments when Americans are alarmed, wanting solace and solutions.
The Christmas bomber; the BP oil spill; James Foley beheaded by ISIS, the Paris attacks, the San Bernardino attacks, and now Brussels, which he discussed rationally and briefly with ESPN at the baseball game, wearing cool $485 Oliver Peoples sunglasses beside a cool Derek Jeter.
He feels that fanatics who are not an existential threat to us want to disrupt our lives and we should not let them; that more people die slipping in their bathtubs than in terrorist attacks.
That anthropological detachment — the failure to viscerally connect and vigorously persuade, the lip-curling at needy lawmakers, jittery Americans or anyone else who does not see things as he does — may keep him from being a Mount Rushmore president.