While all this may seem insurmountable--especially to Democrats readying themselves for election season--it's not. The problems and the emotional detachment accusations are in fact connected. And to change his fortunes the president needs to add an important missing element to his decision-making process: Reading great works of literature.
The problem with the president's team (and today's policymakers in general) is that they approach policy decisions as they would a science experiment: They analyze the problem, eliminate variables and come to a conclusion. It's a (cold) purely rational process that's all facts and no feelings.
Real life is not like a science experiment, however. Humans are not purely rational beings. They have phobias, biases and other irrational elements. Ego, hatred and childhood experiences are not something that can be turned into statistics. In a purely rational world, the threat of sanctions coupled with some sweeteners would probably be enough to convince North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Iran's theocrats to end their rogue ways, but that's not the way the real world works.