Friday, August 21, 2009

Obama's Trust Problem

Paul Krugman writes about Obama's growing 'trust' problem:

On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives
thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who
talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case
for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he
still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds
still read as if they were written by a committee.

Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite
detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to
challenge or change Bush administration policy.
And then there’s the matter
of the banks.

I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage
they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial
industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions
paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who
voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I
press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather
than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.

So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my
colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on
the public option created such an uproar....So progressives are now in revolt.
Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it. And now he
needs to win it back.

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