A recent New Yorker interview with President Obama reinforces a familiar point: He prefers "complexity" over black-and-white simplicity and likes to argue both sides of a debate. Or, as Michael Gerson at the Washington Post sums up, "Every question is an opportunity for a seminar." Gerson admits that he, like others in the "knowledge class," loves a good seminar. He's just not sure that it translates into good governing. "Obama is in deep, second-term trouble," he writes, citing examples such as the "structural failures" of ObamaCare and his "inaction" on Syria, even after what Obama describes as "careful, systematic study" of the conflict. "The president who embraces complexity is now besieged by complexity on every front."
As Obama himself suggests in the New Yorker piece, Americans might be getting a little burned out on his ways. He mentions "over-exposure" after several years in the national spotlight and says it's natural for people to wonder, "Is there somebody else out there who can give [people] that spark of inspiration or excitement?" At the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan thinks the nation has tuned out. "Nobody is really listening to the president anymore," she writes, detecting a decided lack of interest ahead of next week's State of the Union and going a wee bit further in her criticism of Obama than the president himself: "He has been for five years a nonstop wind-up talk machine." Click for Gerson's full column, and Noonan's.