President Obama's record stands out among modern presidents because of the wide range between his accomplishments and the boldness of his as-yet unfulfilled promises. Obamaism is a complex phenomenon, with multiple themes and policy ends. In this paper we examine the administration's initiatives drawing upon recent scholarship in political science to consider the political, economic and institutional constraints that Obama has faced and to assess how he has faced them. Our key theme is the importance of integrating the study of presidency and public leadership with the study of the political economy of the state. The paper argues against personalistic accounts of the Obama presidency in favor of a structured agency approach.