Salena Zito

Next, his line that “nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have” is no guarantee that employers will retain existing coverage for their workers. Employers would be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether.

Those are just two of more than a half-dozen shady rhetorical statements that cannot be backed up with facts.

When you get shifty with Main Street, it sees right through you.

Obama won the presidency largely by promising to end the status quo of Washington politics. That promise died when lobbyists – scores of them, from the Clinton administration, Chicago’s political machine and Wall Street – all became part of his inner circle. Still, the president remained popular.

Then came this summer, and Main Street started to distrust the execution of the government, beginning with its handling of the economy.

Voters remember that candidate Obama couldn’t form a sentence about the economy without throwing former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker’s name into the mix. Volcker, arguably one of the most trusted men in America on economic leadership, hasn’t been seen since last winter, when he held an economic advisory summit in his unused office in Washington.

Despite the non-stop parade of Obama surrogates, including the vice president, at staged campaign-style town-hall meetings, touting the stimulus package, no one on Main Street has seen anything resembling stimulus-package recovery projects in their neighborhoods.

Drive across Pennsylvania, and you see plenty of shiny new “Recovery Act” road signs promoting “your stimulus money hard at work” – yet no evidence exists for miles in either direction of any construction work.

What the president started off with is an investment of a great many of people hoping he would be what he said he wanted to be, what they wanted him to be – someone who would unify the country and solve its problems.

Oh, and that he would be a great leader.

“That was the core of his support, to change the status quo,” Caddell says. But, he adds, the polls show across the board that he has not delivered.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.