He's in his second year as president, and he's discovered that even with all the powers of office, he can't do everything he wants to do, like remake America. Doing stuff is hard. In the past, prosaic work has held little appeal for Obama, and it's prompted him to think about moving on.
Begin with his first serious job, as a community organizer in Chicago. Obama got a little done, but quickly became frustrated with small achievements. "He didn't see organizing making any significant changes in things," Jerry Kellman, the organizer who hired him, told me in 2008.
What Obama wanted was political power, and that is what sent him to Harvard Law School. "He was constantly thinking about his path to significance and power," another organizer, Mike Kruglik, told me. "He said, 'I need to go there [Harvard] to find out more about power. How do powerful people think? What kind of networks do they have? How do they connect to each other?'"