The ignominious Munich debt-ceiling accord is proving relentless in its fallout. From Pew Research:
There ... has been a substantial erosion of Obama’s leadership image. Since May ... the percentage viewing Obama as a strong leader has declined from 58% to 49%.
That's the overall picture, but neither have independents -- those mushy middlers who reportedly prefer virtually any compromise over rational governance -- been impressed:
Today, more say Obama is not a strong leader than say he is (51% vs. 44%); in May, that balance was reversed (52% strong leader, 41% not strong).
The undeniable variable in these downward shifts was of course the debt deal, or rather the White House's steady retreats and incremental surrenders leading up to the debt deal. They took a devastating toll on the all-important intangibility of presidential image.
We'd all like to forget the whole wretched, bloody affair; the problem is, the electorate hasn't. The debt negotiations have left an ugly and noticeable scar.
All of which reinforces the political thesis that in next month's economic proposals, President Obama -- in what you might call Watershed II, the sequel -- should go big. He simply will not erode or erase the ill-destined numbers above by serving up a platter of weak remedies and half measures. No American electorate will ever uniformly agree on the wisdom of any set of bold economic proposals, yet a significant -- and what's better, an expanding -- proportion will recognize and duly admire that inestimable quality of presidential leadership that went into it.
Immediately to follow, naturally, would be a marketing blitzkrieg of press conferences and national touring, which just as naturally would sell nothing to do-nothing congressional Republicans. Whether Obama's proposals are big and bold, or small and meek, they'll go nowhere. So be it. Of that, too, voters will take note. Yet they might as well take note of presidential boldness -- not presidential meekness -- denied.