The inability of President Obama to run this country has reached new levels of concern, including within the Democratic Party itself. The idea of challenging a sitting president for the presidential nomination is practically unheard of, but then we are not talking about normal times, nor an acceptable performance. (The only incumbent Democratic president to lose a second term was Jimmy Carter, who was unseated by Ronald Reagan.)
Obama's lack of effective leadership is no longer a neutral factor; it's a loss. Many believe the country will not recover with him at the helm. A Washington Post poll said only 25 percent of respondents have faith the government can solve its economic problems, and 71 percent said the Standard & Poor's downgrade of the nation's credit was called for. Meanwhile, Gallup reported Obama's approval rating dropped below 40 percent for the first time.
It's impossible to understand why the president has done nothing given the condition of the country and people's declining faith in him. You don't have to look far to see how other foreign heads are acting. Just last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France left his vacation to return to Paris to meet with his cabinet. Among the issues they discussed was a balanced budget amendment. Prime Minister David Cameron, faced with riots in England, dropped his vacation, returned home and convened Parliament.
Our president will go to Martha's Vineyard on vacation this week. Reporters asked him if he was still going to go, considering the desperate shape the country was in, with millions out of work and others losing their retirement savings. As if in a state of oblivion, he said yes.
In a perverse way, perhaps there's no difference between Obama doing nothing in Washington and doing nothing for the country while on vacation.
It is disheartening.
It's hard to understand how his advisers, who are aware of the growing negative sentiment about the president, haven't positioned him to be a man of action who shows he not only understands the problems, but cares and states clearly that, as president of the United States, it falls to him to address them.
We have very serious problems, but the first is a crisis in confidence in our leaders -- and Obama is No. 1. President Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here."
Without confidence in Washington, businesses are not going to invest, spend money or hire. They can't look to Harry Reid or John Boehner to save the day. It's the president's job. Where is Franklin Roosevelt? Where is Ronald Reagan?
Obama is a great speaker, but his rhetorical skills seem limited to the enthusiasm he has for spending money on entitlement programs. He is unable to ratchet up his content and the delivery to the level necessary to inspire confidence. Meanwhile, Americans are giving him a vote of no confidence. In the English parliamentary system, that means the prime minister steps down.
Obama has to have a sound legislative agenda and a strategy to secure its passage. He has no legislative agenda and he has no strategy. He waits for others to put forth their ideas, and then is not very responsive.
The president of the United States not only must have the character to inspire confidence, he also must have the forcefulness to persuade people as well as the temperament to withstand personal criticism in battle.
Obama has none of these. He seems paralyzed, unable to act. The American people and the world are waiting for him to lead the country. They will follow a president who is credible, decisive and a strong leader. You can't find that in this president.
He could announce that he will have an entirely new plan next week instead of going on vacation. He could announce that he is meeting with congressional leadership to address the crisis. He could call the Congress back in session. He is doing none of these.
In the face of Obama's ineptitude, people are stepping back and asking how we got here. They suddenly realize that he has no experience running a large institution. While a U.S. senator, he introduced no significant legislation. His expertise is in creating entitlement programs with no understanding or interest in the economics that make them possible.
In 2008, he told the Iowa caucuses, which he won, that "we are choosing hope over fear." He has not been able to deliver on that hope, and the fall has been that much more dramatic.
He campaigned on how he would change Washington. It's changed, but for the worse.
Remember when Gen. Colin Powell turned his back on the Clintons and endorsed Obama? Powell said Obama could be a "transformational" president. Powell missed the mark badly.
Remember when Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? Some protested that he hadn't done anything to deserve it. It was true; but the aura around him was built on hope, not true leadership and accomplishment. He hasn't said anything concrete in the past two weeks that would give the nation any hope.
He doesn't seem to realize this is his job. A lot of people want to be president; they just don't know how to do president.
Obama might have been a good president in a different era -- if we had no debt problems, the economy was growing and unemployment was manageable. But the situation is far different and far more desperate.
This country needs a leader now who can turn the economy around, and it's become clear that Obama has no idea how to do it.
A big reason for Washington's failure is that politicians don't have the same belief system in how government should function as we do. Our priority is sound governance with decisions based on what is best for the people.
Their priority is staying in office with all the perks, power, patronage and spending that identifies their lives.
The president and other politicians need to step back from their re-election campaigns and concern themselves with options that can lead us out of this mess -- a mess they had a big hand in creating.
It may be dawning on the Democrats that, with Obama floundering, they may not be as secure in office as they thought they were. That may jar them into considering options normally unthinkable.
A year and a half ago, Obama told ABC's Diane Sawyer he'd rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president. He hasn't even managed mediocre.
As people give up hope that Obama will become something he's not -- that simply isn't in him -- they will have to seriously contemplate change.