Dick Morris wrote two columns that I combined that really touches the essence of President Obama's limitations is this recent crisis:
"Contrary to what the Constitution says, the president does not run the executive branch of the federal government. It runs itself. Following Newton’s Laws of Motion, it is “a body in motion that tends to remain in motion in the same direction and at the same speed unless acted upon by an outside force.” The bureaucracy keeps doing what it is programmed to do unless someone intervenes.
And that intervention is the proper job of the president. He has to step in, ask the right questions, get inside and outside advice, and decide how to intervene to move the bureaucracy one way or the other. President Clinton had an excellent sense of how to do this and when to get involved. President Obama does not.
…Because [Obama] has no administrative experience. I often saw Bill Clinton, as governor and as president, call in experts and ask the tough questions when he faced a new disaster. In Arkansas, it was tornadoes or floods or fires. In Washington, it was Oklahoma City. But, each time, he thoroughly familiarized himself with all the technical issues. He took a bath in the science and substance of the hazard and became as knowledgeable as those who had spent a lifetime studying it. So he knew what questions to ask.
Any CEO or COO or manager has similar experience. But a community organizer, law professor, state senator, US Senator, and president doesn’t have the requisite experience. He doesn’t know not to trust his own bureaucracy. He hasn’t been burned enough to realize that he needs to intervene to waive restrictions, set aside regulations, and open up the process to new solutions.
Why did he not waive the Jones Act (he still hasn’t) to allow foreign vessels to ply our waters to clean up the spill? Not because he was against it. He couldn’t have been against so obvious a course as waiving it. It was likely because nobody told him about it and he never knew to ask
…When the spill started, he and his campaign staff – now transplanted to the White House – reacted the way a Senator or a candidate would, blaming British Petroleum, framing an issue against the oil company, and holding it accountable. But what he needed to do was to review the plans for coping with the disaster and intervene to move the bureaucracy in untraditional but more appropriate directions. Instead, he let business as usual and inertia move the process.
…But this president is no executive. He is a legislator – he is now pushing new environmental legislation. He is a lawyer – his Attorney General is investigating criminal charges against BP. He is a populist – he is quick to blame BP. He is a big spender – he wants a fund to pay the spill’s victims. He is all of these things. But he is no chief executive and that, unfortunately, is the job he was elected to do."