Those who watch the passing parade believe the recent election in Massachusetts signaled the end of the presidential honeymoon. The voters sent President Barack Obama a message: "We don't care for your policies."
The folks on Main Street remember candidate Obama. He was the likable fellow with a fire in his belly and a message of change. What has happened to his passion and where are the promised changes making America better? Are his advisers up to the challenges? Is he up to the daunting tasks facing his administration?
Questions arose when he called countless meetings with staff over what to do about Afghanistan. He seemed indecisive. Did he have the will and determination to fight a prolonged war in a bottomless pit where other nations have already failed?
War was only one of his problems. He had more than his share of crises. The economy, unemployment, health care reform, the growing deficit, and on and on grew the list.
Voters faced the struggling economy finding their standard of living falling, and many had foreclosure problems. People wondered about their choice of leader. He seemed to place his emphasis on Wall Street, not Main Street. Where were the promised jobs?
Obama recognized he had problems and promised not to quit trying to resolve issues. He kept appearing on stage after stage engaging in political theater and making promise after promise. He was likable and pleasant, and his speeches were well-crafted. People listened but saw few positive results. The president was not meeting his goals in spite of his fine oratory. There were suggestions for him to fire some of his associates and acquire more-qualified advisors. He looked like a trail blazer who lost his way in a forest of too many problems.
Certainly, Obama heard the voices of discontent. Was he ready to listen, change direction, seek more compromise and even embrace some of the Republican ideas? Was he too content with gridlock? What was happening to public trust? Maybe voters were turning off to fancy talk. His poll numbers dropped.
Time is marching on, and the deficit is rising as we wonder if the lesson sent by people in Massachusetts has caught up with the man who had that fire in his belly.
Will Obama lead his country out of tough times? He has been holding bipartisan meetings and has indicated a desire to work with congressional leaders on a range of issues. Maybe reasonable change is really coming. If not, people are bound to send more and more messages like the one from Massachusetts.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.