Go here to see Shelby Steele's deconstruction of Barack Obama and his presidency. I disagree with him on several points.
First, Steele likens Obama to an emperor with no clothes. It's an inappropriate parable. After a campaign that lasted 1.5 years, the American people had ample time to learn about all the candidates. Obama campaigned on reforming health care. He did so. Throughout the campaign, Obama said Afghanistan is where we should have focused our resources all along. We are now doing so.
Second, Steele claims "Obama's economic thinking (or lack thereof) adds up to a kind of rudderless cowboyism combined with wishful thinking." Obama has assembled one of the more remarkable economic teams of this generation or any other. That they come to different conclusions than Professor Steele would like is not an indication of a lack of economic thinking. Obama's first economic priority was to stabilize the economy. People would not be investing in the stock market (from a low of 6,500 to 10,500 today) the way they currently are if the economy were not on more solid footing. Certainly, more has to be done to address unemployment, recession was never cured immediately. Steele must have forgotten the recession of 1979-1982. Reagan didn't cure his recession his first year in office either, yet Reagan is so often held up as the lodestar for conservative activists like Steele. Selective memory does not beget good arguments.
Third, Steele claims that Obama has an "inner emptiness." Apparently, Reagan "individuated." Again, he cites Reagan as the exemplar of such behavior because "he took principled positions throughout his long career that jeopardized his popularity." I'm not sure how this doesn't apply to Obama too. Defending health care reform in the teeth of unified Republican opposition and selective logrolled Democratic opposition definitely decreased Obama's political capital and increased the chances that the GOP can recapture the House.
Obama didn't have to tackle health care. He could have ignored the issue, which would only make things worse in the long-term. Or, like Bush, he could have worsened the problem by adding an unfunded prescription drug benefit on to Medicare. Principled is doing things that aren't always popular. None of the following are (were) popular: accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, arguing on behalf of climate change legislation, health care legislation, the troop surge to Afghanistan, yet Obama pushes(d) because they are right.
Fourth, the comparisons to Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby are inappropriate. Their misdeeds are personal. Any that Obama would commit would be national and permanent. It's an insult to the president to draw comparisons down and instead of in a lateral manner to other presidents.
Finally, Steele can make good points, witness his earlier article on why the GOP can't win with minority.