His achievements so far have been accomplished in spite of obstacles that would fell most mortals—the almost uncountable messes he inherited from Bush-Cheney, a cratered economy, a sclerotic Congress in thrall to lobbyists and special-interest money, and a rabid opposition underwritten by a media empire that owns both America’s most-watched cable news channel and its most highly circulated newspaper. Indeed it could be argued that the matrix of crises facing Obama would have outmatched any Bush successor, no matter how talented. (They certainly would have drowned John McCain, whose utter cluelessness about the economic crisis alarmed even his Republican allies in 2008.) But Obama knew what he was getting into when he ran for president, and the question that matters now is how he can do the job better.
Can Obama self-correct? He remains the same driven, smart, psychologically balanced leader we saw in the campaign, and to these familiar attributes, Alter adds another quality that is less frequently displayed in public—an utter lack of sentimentality. He’s “the most unsentimental man I’ve ever met,” says one aide, summing up for many of his peers. That trait may be the most useful of all if Obama undertakes the ruthless course corrections that are essential to the realization of his promise.
I think Obama's biggest mistakes so far are a) trying to achieve bipartisanship with pols who want him to fail at all costs so they can regain power, and b) putting people in charge of the economy who helped cause the problem in the first place.
Lack of sentimentality? Who the fuck cares? Ruthless? He'd better.