Many of the commentators have been saying that the reason Obama did so poorly in the debate with Romney was that he has spent four years in the White House bubble, where everyone is a yes-man afraid to confront him. This overlooks the fact that Obama meets with foreign leaders who are not afraid to talk back to him, to demand things from him, to say that he is wrong. However, it was not a good sign when Obama refused to meet with any foreign leaders during the UN general assembly. Did he know that he was not up to it?
We usually don’t see what actually happens when Obama meets with foreign leaders. There are usually only a few high level aides present. We got a glimpse when Obama and Netanyahu sparred during a photo session at the While House about a year ago. The consensus seemed to be the Netanyahu took Obama to the woodshed. That may be one reason Obama did not want to meet with Netanyahu again just before the debate.
We don’t know how Obama does in bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, but we know that the has them. He may let Hillary Clinton take the lead. But in any case he does not live inside the “no-drama” Obama bubble all the time.