President Barack Obama has confounded his fans because he has shown a remarkable lack of ability to connect with the American people.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the president had a sixth sense for the elusive gift of reaching the voters. He claimed to understand their problems and insisted that he felt their pain, especially when it came to the disintegrating U.S. economy. Obama put it out there — and the electorate rewarded him with the ultimate victory.
That was then. And this is now.
Today, Obama's reputation is in tatters. He has seemed strangely disconnected from the very people who idolized him and got him elected. It isn't that the president is unfeeling. And no, I don't think success has gone to his head.
He was — and is — a fundamentally decent man, even for a career politician. But his lack of recognition of his biggest problem, a failure to communicate, is troubling to me and the people who expected so much more.
A president's first term is a marathon, not a sprint. Perhaps Obama is determined to pace himself and come up with his greatest victories as we edge closer to Election Day 2012. That would make sense — and that knowledge would sure reassure his supporters.
But I don't want to let the POTUS off the hook quite so easily. I fret that he has created this mess for himself. It isn't bad luck or divine intervention. The president has been disconnected and now he is facing the wrath of his backers.
Can the president get back his renowned mojo? Of course, he can. He is uber-resourceful and remains confident that he is the leader that our country needs. He may well be right.
He has to show us. He has to connect.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.
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