As I see them:
1) The time that he seems to spend coming to a decision is time that the 24-hour news cycle churns into “crisis” and “panic”. Compared to the 1990’s, even, this is compounded by the 24-hour blogosphere with its many competing agendas and demands.
2) The President trusts in the good nature of the party at the other side of the bargaining table, unless that other side is clearly hostile. He seems to think that the parties can reach some middle ground that satisfies most everybody. It leaves open the trap door that the intentions of the other side might be much more hostile than they let on.
3) Obama doesn’t show a willingness to “zap” people, which I think is part of any executive’s tool kit. You don’t have to be at it like that everyday. In fact, usually execs in those situations quickly become hated and ineffective. But with Obama, I’m not seeing any zapping at all, except allies on the “political left”.
The reason Clinton got away with burning his base in 1995 was because they burned him in 1993 and ’94. But the dynamic was entirely different almost two decades ago. Right now, in trying to be friend to all, Obama is zapping those who actually worked to get him there and are relying on him to deliver.
4) He keeps mentioning “getting out of the bubble of Washington”, but it starts to look like he really doesn’t mind it in there. Washington plays its eternal games, and he is happy to be in there playing them, too.
Why did he run for President if it just meant avoiding the rest of the country for games in the Beltway? I seriously don’t see that as his idea—more like events have pulled him away from the pressing problems in the country. And the Washington clique that he’s surrounded by probably don’t help. But re-invigorating his young presidency is going to take breaking some huevos. That is, if he really wants the omelet—some people doubt that now.
At the end of the day—and I think this is from Reagan—if you don’t end up with some people angry at you, you really haven’t done the job. If it’s about pleasing the people inside the Beltway who fawn all over you, the people who are going to get angry are those out beyond Washington who counted on you to bring hope and change you can believe in.