New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd quotes  a politely phrased but hard-hitting question put to the president last week  by an Iowa voter, a mother named Emily who is an Obama supporter, during a town hall meeting with the good folks of Decorah, Iowa. Dowd notes that the president “seemed to tense up as Emily spoke.”
“So when you ran for office you built a tremendous amount of trust with the American people, that you seemed like someone who wouldn’t move the bar on us. . . . And it seems, especially in the last year, as if your negotiating tactics have sort of cut away at that trust by compromising some key principles that we believed in, like repealing the tax cut, not fighting harder for single-payer. Even Social Security and Medicare seemed on the line when we were dealing with the debt ceiling. So I’m just curious, moving forward, what prevents you from taking a harder negotiating stance, being that it seems that the Republicans are taking a really hard stance?” —“Field of Dashed Dreams ,” NYT, Aug. 16, 2011
As the president himself might say while mentally preparing his response (it was not a reassuring answer), Well, Emily, we’re glad you asked that question. All we’ll add for now is that within Emily of Iowa’s question can be found pretty much the entire political, electoral predicament facing this once so promising president and the nation he was elected to lead, so very long ago.