Jacob Weisberg, writing in Newsweek, says that President Obama needs to articulate a governing philosophy:
"Whatever works" is less a vision of the public sector's proper role than a placeholder for someone who has yet to figure out what he thinks that role should be.
At the end of his essay, Weisberg offers a positive example for Obama to follow:
Obama would do well to figure out what he thinks about the fundamental question of government's responsibilities. He might begin by pondering some words of his role model, Abraham Lincoln, who in 1854 wrote, "The legitimate object of government is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves."
Of course, there's nothing that government does that people could do by themselves. So that leaves the other half of Lincoln's formulation: it must do what needs to be done. But I don't think that answers a lot of questions.