Donald Lambro

The voters' response: "...a 60 percent majority of likely voters feels more confident about the Republicans on national security in response to this message."

As for Obama's kinder and gentler arguments for closing Guantanamo Bay and reading their Miranda rights, "a 51 percent to 44 percent majority of likely voters disapproves of his efforts on the 'prosecution and interrogation of terrorism suspects.'"

-- Then there's Iran's growing threat to Israel and the Middle East. The president's "can't we get along by just talking to one another" approach isn't playing well with Americans, either:

"In the wake of continued intransigence by Tehran about its nuclear program, as well as protests by the Iranian opposition, a 49 percent to 42 percent plurality of America's likely voters express disapproval of the way the president is handling security issues related to Iran."

There were issues where Obama seemed to be holding his own, but when Greenberg added the pluses and minuses on this political front, he saw that the president was not only losing the confidence of the voters, but also that "the public once again has real and rising doubts about the Democrats' handling of national security issues, as compared to their faith in Republicans."

Unless Obama and his party change their national security stance, the Democrats' long-held national security "gap shows signs of reopening, with Democrats trailing by 17 points, 33 to 50 on which party likely voters think would do the better job on national security."

This "troubling trend," Greenberg's numbers show, "is especially strong among women, and among independents, who now favor Republicans on this question by a 56 to 20 percent margin."

The White House has seen these and similar numbers in other polls and has already begun to signal it is taking steps to change course on some of the key issues.

Last week, The Washington Post ran a front page story -- under the headline "Obama aides near reversal on 9/11 trial" -- about changing its plan to try five of the most bloodthirsty terrorists at Guantanamo in civilian courts. The harebrained scheme of a New York City venue is no more. A return to the swift justice of a military court is on the front burner.

But it's going to take a lot more than this to earn back the confidence of the electorate that the people now running the government and Congress can keep America safe from the terrorists who are plotting their next attack even now.

Greenberg's poll is more than "a wake-up call" for Obama and his party. It is a renewed reminder of the common sense of the American people that the ruling party doesn't have what it takes to protect us.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.