by Max Brantley
President Obama's cool and careful calculation on complex issues is one of his strengths. Also an occasional political liability. See Iran where his distance -- though still preferable to the bomb jockeys like John McCain-- is seen as too great as popular protests continue over the recent election.
Mr. Obama is coming under increased pressure from Republicans and other conservatives who say he should take a more visible stance in support of the protesters.
Even while supporting the president’s approach, senior members of the administration, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would like to strike a stronger tone in support of the protesters, administration officials said.
And then there's the home front. This new poll shows erosion in public approval of his work in some core economic areas, though his overall ratings remain high.
A distinct gulf exists between Mr. Obama’s overall standing and how some of his key initiatives are viewed, with fewer than half of Americans saying they approve of how he has handled health care and the effort to save General Motors and Chrysler. A majority of people said his policies have had either no effect yet on improving the economy or had made it worse, underscoring how his political strength still rests on faith in his leadership rather than concrete results.