Those days seem like a distant past. Much of the glow surrounding President Obama has diminished. The economy remains sluggish. The political left feels that Obama has betrayed them. The media dissect everything he does, rather than offering effusive praise. And conservatives feel embolden by Republican victories in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert -- one of Obama's strongest supporters -- argues that the president suffers from a "credibility gap." Herbert contends that Obama's inconsistencies on major policy issues could fuel additional voter discontent and confusion:
Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map: the anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist.Ironically, many media personalities and voters who supported Obama's candidacy said that they found his "non-ideological" style refreshing. Early this year, many media commentators, responding to liberal anger, praised Obama as a "pragmatist" and condemned progressives as ideologues.
Mr. Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted. He is creating a credibility gap for himself, and if it widens much more he won’t be able to close it.
I am inclined to agree with Herbert who finds Obama's lack of a firm commitment to issues a problem for him. By seeking to appease all sides and (especially) to abandon the liberal base of the Democratic Party, Obama comes across as a weak leader. With so much on the line, tonight's State of the Union Address should prove interesting.