Is it, "Yes, we can -- just not yet" Or is it possibly even worse -- "No, we can't."
President Obama takes to the airwaves Wednesday night to press his case on health care, but the Gallup Poll released Tuesday delivered about as cold a bucket of cold water as has seen since the president took office January 20. Not only is there a net negative approval-disapproval of Obama's health-care policies (44-50), so to is there on his handling of the economy (47-49) and deficits (41-55). It's beginning to look like that Ohio poll earlier this month was more precursor than outlier. Either way, bet there's a lot of post (poll)-cursing coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now.
Obama's problems grappling with issues, however, are also starting to take a toll on his personal attributes -- such as "trust." Obama's has taken a hit with public in recent weeks.
This is compounded also on the personal characteristic that ultimately doomed George W. Bush -- competence. Few Americans are actually doubting Obama's ability to handle job of president, but doubts will rise if there are further incidents such as the failure to produce the mid-year budget review. While it's true that Obama's not the first president to delay the release of the midyear facts and figures, the fact that he's simultaneously pushing to get a sweeping policy change through Congress before the a good snapshot of the financial state of the country has been released naturally raises suspicions.
Meanwhile, the administration also announced a delay on another priority -- the assessment of detainee policies at Guantanamo Bay (toward the ultimate promised end of shuttering the facility). While not directly connected to the budget, the two issues share a common theme -- the administration wants to release the information at the right time. It's not accepting either a legislative deadline (in the case of the budget review) or a self-imposed one (Gitmo).
In that case, it's more than reasonable for both Congress and the public to ask, "If the president needs a delay on either releasing important information or making major decisions, why can't the Congress take its time in reforming a policy that impacts one-sixth of the U.S. economy?"
If the president accepts that "fierce urgency of now" should be replaced with the "fierce urgency of getting it right," he may learn that "yes, we can" is anthem that can still be relied upon.