President Obama has a problem: According to a Washington Post poll released this morning, 78% of all Americans approved of his handling of the Tucson shooting, compared to only 12% who disapproved. Why should that be a problem? 78% is a pretty high number, no?
The problem is that President Obama earned those high marks because in the wake of the killings in Tucson, he was called upon to play the role of a head of state, to appear not as the spokesman for a partisan position or a political point of view, but to speak for the nation. And, he did it masterfully. The difficulty is that the modern presidency does not offer that many opportunities for Obama to act exclusively as head of state. Most times, he is also called upon to be the head of government as well, the leader of a political party involved in an often bitter struggle with political opponents.