Put simply, Obama has misread his mandate. Perhaps he thought he was elevated to pass health care – they loved it in Iowa! – but in fact it was the economic crisis that got him elected, is now our national preoccupation, and will be the solution of which (or lack of one) that determines whether he’s re-elected.
Obama seems to have forgotten all the stuff he proclaimed in the campaign about a new type of non-divisive presidency, even though that promise of bipartisanship was the facet of his candidacy that appealed the most to independents. Of course, the Republicans have made bipartisanship difficult. But he was the one in the campaign who claimed he could deal in a new way with those across the aisle – in contrast with his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, who once called that opposition “the vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Obama further miscalculated what a president actually does and is expected to do in a constitutionally weak office. When it comes to the economy in an interdependent world, there’s not a whole lot under his office’s control.
Now that we, as a nation, have awakened from our post-election, post-racial dream state, we’ve begun to notice that our president may not be much interested in being a chief “executive,” given that he’s never run anything before or expressed the slightest inclination to do so. He has big ideas, to be sure, but that’s only a small part of the job. The hard, nitty-gritty labor of figuring out how government can actually work better – the operative word is “governing” – seems to hold no appeal for him.