As a result of Ian Welsh's discussion of Obama's failings on Virtually Speaking (you can hear it here, and read the article it was based on here) and further discussions with an SL friend, I ended up wondering how it is that Obama can make excellent cabinet and judicial appointments like Stephen Chu and Sonia Sotomayor, and yet make such awful decisions on the economy, civil rights, and war and peace. I came to a couple of tentative conclusions. First, is that Obama is better at picking people than he is at understanding policy. At some level it is as if he thinks that the jaw-jaw of politics is more real than the tangible results in the lives of the public. Second, It seems that he cares more about the Supreme Court and the Department of Energy than he does about the economy, the military, and whether or not people who want jobs can get them, and what those jobs consist of. I have rather the impression that Obama is paying his best attention to things he cares the most about, and letting the Democratic Party's conservative leadership make the rest of the decisions.
I don't think this is a effective way to be President. It is much more typical of successful Senators. Whether or not November is going to be a disaster for the Democrats, as some polling says (for instance, here), it is a deeply unpopular and undemocratic way to govern.