On one side is America — fickle and excitable, hotheaded and prone to overreaction, easily frightened and in constant need of reassurance.
On the other side stands Obama — solid and sober, rooted in the belief that his way is the right way and in no need of alteration. He’s the emotionally maimed type who lights up when he’s stroked and adored but shuts down in the face of acrimony. Other people’s anxieties are dismissed as irrational and unworthy of engagement or empathy. He seems quite comfortable with this aspect of his personality, even if few others are, and shows little desire to change it. It’s the height of irony: the presumed transformative president is stymied by his own unwillingness to be transformed. He would rather sacrifice the relationship than be altered by it.
Add to this tension the fact that conservative Blue Dog Democrats are doing everything they can to keep their jobs and Republicans are doing everything they can to make Obama lose his, and it only aggravates the situation.