Kevin Baker's "Barack Hoover Obama" at Harper's looks skeptically at the president's political style and predicts that Obama "will be unable--indeed he will refuse--to seize the radical moment at hand."
Probably the moment most comparable to the present was the start of the Great Depression, and for the scope and the quantity of the problems he is facing, Obama has frequently been compared with Franklin Roosevelt. So far, though, he most resembles the other president who had to confront that crisis, Herbert Hoover. [...] Hoover--like Obama--was almost certainly someone gifted with more intelligence, a better education, and a greater range of life experience than FDR. And Hoover, through the first three years of the Depression, was also the man who comprehended better than anyone else what was happening and what needed to be done. And yet he failed.
Baker wonders "Why was Herbert Hoover so reluctant to make the radical changes that were so clearly needed?"
Ultimately, Hoover could not break with the prevailing beliefs of his day. [...] Much like Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama is a man attempting to realize a stirring new vision of his society without cutting himself free from the dogmas of the past--without accepting the inevitable conflict. Like Hoover, he is bound to fail. [...] It is not too late for him to change direction and seize the radical moment at hand. But for the moment, just like another very good man, Barack Obama is moving prudently, carefully, reasonably toward disaster.
Comparing Obama to Hoover may be an overstatement, but so is likening him to FDR. Obama is a centrist whose position on the ideological spectrum is skewed by the reactionary era which we recently left behind.