In his new memoir, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta offers a criticism of the President that hits close to home–he acts like a law professor. And that’s not a good thing.
President Obama bore some responsibility as well, not for concocting the sequester but rather for failing to lead Congress out of it. Indeed, that episode highlighted what I regard as his most conspicuous weakness, a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause. That is not a failing of ideas or of intellect— he is, as anyone who knows him can attest, supremely intelligent, capable of absorbing and synthesizing complex information, and committed to a well-reasoned vision for the country. He does, however, sometimes lack fire. Too often, in my view, the president relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.
I agree with Jon Adler that most law professors would make terrible politicians for the very reason they make excellent law professor. The nature of our professor is incompatible with bold leadership, and relishes in contemplative discourse. If you have any doubt, go to a faculty meeting. This is not a good model for any President.