Obama The Passive

David Frum’s proposed critique of Barack Obama:

The job has overwhelmed the man. He’s not an alien, he’s not a radical. He’s just not the person the country needs. He’s not tough enough, he’s not imaginative enough, and he’s not determined enough. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the president ran out of ideas sometime back in 2009.


I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I know I’ve obtained a reputation in certain circles as an Obama apologist because I don’t believe that disappointing policy outcomes out financial regulation or the public option or immigration reform or climate change are primarily attributable to poor legislative tactics or a lack of “leadership” on Obama’s part. But that’s largely because I believe all critiques of Obama that aren’t critiques of his macroeconomic management are slighting the role that poor macroeconomic management has played in exacerbating everything else. It’s certainly true that his team has faced an unprecedented level of non-cooperation from Republicans. But at the same time, Obama hasn’t shown much in the way of so-called “Rooseveltian resolve” to keep trying things and appears to have quite sincerely pivoted toward deficit control and structural reform last winter even with unemployment stuck at sharply elevated levels. Concurrently, the actual team of senior policymakers has evolved so as to remove from office most of the people (Summers, Romer, Bernstein) who feel passionately about this issue.