President Obama didn’t wear a bike helmet on vacation, but maybe he should when he returns to work next week. He’ll need it to protect himself from the hail of incoming advice about how he should handle the health-care-reform fight. He’s being told to be less liberal, change his message, stay on course, get more emotional, and (by everyone) to get more hands-on.
The president will get more involved, aides promise. He will get more specific about what he wants and build a coalition in Congress around those ideas. Then, he’ll have to convince the public and hope that specificity will improve his connection with the American people. Until now, despite his constant effort to sell health care reform, the public-opinion numbers have been moving against him. In a just-released CBS/New York Times poll, 40 percent say they have confidence in his handling of health care, down seven points from a month ago. A plurality of Americans (47 percent) disapprove of his handling of the issue.
How did things get so low? If the president is going to make a new and successful pitch, knowing where he went wrong might help him keep from making the same mistake in the future.