The Left wishes President Obama had the guts to kill the Keystone Pipline, whose proponents wish he had the guts to stand up to the Left, and push the Pipeline through.
The Right wishes President Obama had the nuts to stand up to Vladmir Putin, the Left wishes he had the stones to stand up to the Right and close Gitmo, cancel the drones program and raise the miniumum wage.
And so on and so forth.
But I don't think President Obama is afraid of these political forces. Maybe sometimes fear of political consequences comes into his thinking—and probably fear of real consequences comes into it. But just as often, I think he doesn't always know what he ought to do in a given situation, and I think he sometimes thinks there is little he can do. And about some of these situations—the easy questions don't get to his desk (I handle those here at Murray's Freelance Writing)—he must be right.
Does it matter why President Obama does what he does, and doesn't do what he doesn't?
Think of all the problems you have, all your unmet goals, your gnarly dilemmas, your looming deadlines the chronic conflicts in your life.
How would it be if your friends—and we are the president's friends—ascribed your every single unhappy circumstance, or their every disagreement with you—to a lack of courage on your part?
That would be bad. Because it would mean your friends aren't trying to understand you (and of course trying to understand you is what distinguishes your friends from your strangers, and your enemies). It would mean your friends are just trying to condemn you, by ascribing their dissatisfaction with you to the least forgivable possible character trait: cowardice.
It would mean your friends are being mean, and dumb.
And having mean and dumb friends—now that's something to be afraid of.