Barack Obama is lots of things - eloquent, dissembling, conniving, intelligent and calm. But one thing he is not is weak.
This basic truth is belied by the Obama criticism you occasionally hear from liberal pundits. They usually stipulate that the president genuinely wants to enact a progressive agenda, but they gently reprimand him for failing to muster the necessary personal mettle to achieve that goal.
This story line is a logical fallacy. Most agree that today's imperial presidency almost singularly determines the course of national politics. Additionally, most agree that Obama is a brilliant guy who understands how to wield political power.
Considering this, it is silly to insist that national political events during Obama's term represent a lack of presidential strength. And it's more than just silly - it's a narcissistic form of wishful thinking coming primarily from liberals who desperately want to believe "their" president is with them.
Obama is a Franklin Delano Roosevelt - but a bizarro FDR. He has mustered the legislative strength of his New Deal predecessor - but he has channeled that strength into propping up the very forces of "organized money" that FDR once challenged.
On health care, for instance, Obama passed a Heritage Foundation-inspired bailout of the private health insurance industry. On foreign policy, he escalated old wars and initiated new ones. On financial issues, he fought off every serious proposal to re-regulate banks. On fiscal matters, after extending the Bush tax cuts, he has used the debt ceiling negotiations to set the stage for potentially massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
As hideous and destructive as it is, this record is anything but weak. It is, on the contrary, proof of Obama's impressive political muscle, especially because polls show he has achieved these goals despite the large majority of Americans who oppose them.
Importantly, though, Obama himself has not suffered from equally negative polling numbers. In forging such bipartisan complicity with what were once exclusively Republican objectives, Obama has achieved what he fantasized about when he famously celebrated a previous bizarro FDR. In an illustrative 2008 interview with a Nevada newspaper, Obama lauded Ronald Reagan for changing "the trajectory of America" and putting "us on a fundamentally different path."
Reagan was a truly strong executive - but the Gipper was nothing compared to our current president.