In Westen’s world, the important difference between Obama’s oratory on the campaign trail and in the Oval Office resides with the speaker. A better way to look at it would be to focus on the changes in audience, context, and subject matter. Viewed that way, the apparent paradox—how can Obama’s rhetorical power be limited as president, when it was central to his candidacy?—is no paradox at all.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.