Every great president since George Washington has also been a great partisan.
President Obama, however, has been reluctant to present himself as a partisan, much less as the leader of a party. This leaves him vulnerable in the wake of his executive action that could protect about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, allowing his opponents to cast him not as a party leader but a monarch imposing his will on the country.
Obama too often seems to see himself standing apart from both parties. He framed his historic 2008 victory, for instance, in deeply personal terms, suggesting that, by the force of his example, he could bridge the partisan division of red and blue America. He aspired to an elevated, post-partisan plateau from which partisan conflict looked like a petty and self-defeating distraction from the interests of the nation.