The Drip, Drip, Drip of Leaking Confidence

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 15, 2009 3:13 PM
In what should be an extremely worrisome sign for the Obama administration, even those who most fervently supported Barack Obama are now beginning to express substantial doubts about his ability to govern. 

Columns by the Washington Post's David Broder (who proclaims the end of the Obama honeymoon), the NY Daily News' Michael Goodwin, and the always-reliable Michael Barone highlight the point.

Mind you, it's not Broder, Goodwin or Barone expressing their own opinions.  Rather, they're quoting Obama loyalists.

Broder: "[S]ome thoughtful congressional Democrats with whom I have spoken . . .worry that [Obama] has bitten off more than he can chew. "

Goodwin: "[A] veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, 'Do you think they know what they're doing?'"

Barone: "We've been hearing a lot of criticism of Barack Obama in recent days from pro-Obama corners -- from celebrity investor Warren Buffett, from moderate conservative columnist David Brooks, from one of the Democratic Party's deepest thinkers, William Galston . . ."

Obviously, it's premature and foolish to say that the administration is in trouble; that's no more true than it was to believe that the Second Coming was at hand on Inauguration Day.

Nevertheless, a meme is developing among the elites and pundit class -- and such memes often spread, relatively quickly, to the public at large.  And this meme is one  that should be very disturbing to the Administration -- because it's based on competence. 

In a robust economy, people are willing to give a new, untried President time to get his bearings.  But in difficult times, people expect a President to get the job done -- especially one who has been touted as a virtual Messiah, who is surrounding himself with the Best and Brightest.  And so far, there isn't much about the administration's record of accomplishment that offers a lot of encouragement for all the people who so vociferously pinned their hopes on an Obama presidency.

And the new Obama strategy -- stepping up the blame-shifting game for the troubled economy -- carries more than a whiff of desperation.  What's more, it isn't likely to do him any favors at all.  Obama's personal popularity depends on retaining his image as someone who is seeking to bring an end to the divisive politics of the past.  So how, exactly, does he plan to do that as he whines and points fingers at President Bush?

After all, weren't these the problems he promised us he could solve if he was given the top job?