Any President will get some good advice (most often, I would think) and some bad advice. And then the President must make a reasoned decision. If the President doesn't have the training and knowledge tools, his decisions will not be as good. But, for any President, there will be some right decisions - and it is nonsense to always be putting down "the opposition" and twisting everything to fit a pre-ordained conclusion of the President not being effective.
THE ARGUMENT ABOUT THE STIMULUS
The key argument is whether the stimulus did any good. Of course, it did some good for the economy. But was it a shrewd move or an obvious one? Did it save the economy from crashing further? Well, of course, to some extent. But we can only argue about "to what extent." We don't know how far down it might have gone, but it would have been certainly unwise to find out! So we cannot really answer this question. Maybe it was good, maybe so-so, and unlikely of no effect. I assess that it was good, but it was not executed well and not designed as well as if a knowledgeable President was in office. (It is not difficult to determine that Obama is not knowledgeable in economics and practical effectiveness decisions, as he had no experience and no training in the areas needed to be an effective CEO of the largest organization in the world.)
Since it is "arguable", I think we must focus instead on the "for sures" or "highly probables" for the President causing a result. As the arguables will lead us nowhere fast, except into heat and blame, we must see if the clearly caused actions and results will give us enough information to determine if the President or a candidate should be hired or re-hired. Read Obama Results - The For-Sures. I think the only possibly reasonable conclusions are clear, if a person is objective and not "twisting" the perceptions.
SPENDS TIME ON SMALLER ISSUES INSTEAD OF THE IMPORTANT ONES
Doing battle on taxing the oil companies for a miniscule effect compared to major issues, doing battle to tax the top 1%, criticizing those who do actually write out plans but having none of specific detail himself - this appears to be politics and not devoting full-time efforts to the key issues of jobs and the economy and the huge debt burden ($100 trillion)
THE OTHER GUYS ARE AT FAULT
Yes, the Republicans had decided no new taxes, until the President cut the spending. But they were willing to raise revenue by eliminating many of the loopholes - which has the same effect as raising tax rates, except it does not have the bad effect on the economy and incentives.
Both sides used the "we'll go over a cliff" strategy on approving the debt ceiling. The Republicans pushed for dealing with the debt and a commitment to cut spending. The Democrats accused them of not caring and brinksmanship. There were two sides, but the President blamed the other side for not coming to a midpoint of compromise - which is illogical, as all negotiating has two sides that are equally responsible for effective bargaining and decision-making.
Boehner and Obama actually came to an agreement with about $800 billion (10 years) of additional revenue to go along with spending cuts - it was the so-called Grand Bargain. The revenue was to be from adjusting the so-called loopholes, mostly deductions. Then Obama demanded $400 billion more, which would have had to be from new taxes, but he failed to consider where the Repubs had "drawn the line". He failed to consider that over and over as he perhaps was trying to test the limits or somehow magically get his way.
Alas, the Grand Bargain folded - and we were left with a noble idea (I think proposed by Biden to reach a "compromise"): To commit to the Republican request for responsibility by agreeing that there would be about $1 trillion in spending cuts, with the actual spending cuts to be agreed to by a bipartisan committee. And there was a huge penalty attached to not coming to a reasoned compromise - huge specified cuts in defense (which apparently was abhorrent to Repubs) and $500 billion that would disproportionately affect social programs or other items of interest to the Dems. The committee actually failed to reach agreement, with the Dems insisting on new taxes, which was not at all a part of the deal.
Now we're stuck, supposedly, though Congress can always readjust the spending allocations. Obama is now accusing the Repubs of not honoring their word, as they are attempting to work a better solution, which would be voted on by the Congress. You be the judge about the subtance of the accusation and whether that is a Presidential/goodleader way of behaving or not.
A good leader spends no time in the lower conversations of blame or excuses. He/she spends the time seeking solutions and asking him/herself what it would take for each side to get some of what they want.
They follow the strategies in Getting To Yes, by William Ury (aka The Harvard Negotiating Project).
THE PRICE OF OIL
In the short term, no President can do much about the price of oil. It is debatable when it is appropriate to release the reserves.
It is, however, if a President were willing, a strategy of committing to a huge leap in oil production, which would not increase global warming since the same amount oil would be produced elsewhere in the world. Organizations that use oil must buy futures in order to protect themselves against oil price increases ruining their profits. If there was a huge amount of oil coming on line in the next two to three years, the price of oil would drop down in anticipation of that effect - kind of like a supply-demand situation with a set time horizon of about three years.
And then the President could have more jobs for Americans, a stronger dollar, more revenue for the government and research to get alternative energy sources to be economical and wise, and the trade deficit would decline substantially.
WILL ALTERNATIVE ENERGY HAPPEN SOONER?
The President is either an impractical idealist or a shrewd creator of the future.
Yes, somehow the push could cause alternative energy to come about quicker. But the cost is enormous, for everything but wind, which, in turn, is limited in the scale it can reach. Wind is economical. The other sources have a project-life cost of more than double our current energy sources.
The classic idea here is involved in the "joke" about the volume light bulb salesman as he tells the listener that he is doing great in buying lightbulbs at a cost of a $1 and selling them at 50 cents. The listener then asks "but how do you make a profit", to which he replies "volume, my dear man, volume!"
Making things that are unecomical is uneconomic. (Duh!) If we make lots of solar panels that aren't cheap enough, then we are essentially running on a treadmill, getting nowhere, except losing money. If we instead take some of the royalties from increased oil drilling and put them into research and development, then we could shorten the time until solar is feasible and electric cars are economic (with good battery technology, finally). Right now the electric cars and the double the gas mileage cars required by 2025 will cost an extra $8,000 - and the latter is projected to cause a loss of 250,000 jobs.
I would argue that the President needs to have a plan that considers time and economics, that has priorities and practicalities lined up, a bit like the approach taken by Bjorn Lomborg (see Cool It!, available at Netflix, and/or watch the 20 minute clip at TED: Global Priorities.).