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December 2, 2013

LYONS: Obama resilient in face of lagging numbers

For a guy whose presidency was supposed to be on life support, Barack Obama has certainly had a productive couple of weeks. With his poll numbers sinking toward George W. Bush territory — 53 percent in a recent CNN survey said he’s not a strong or decisive leader — Obama took bold action on two issues that dramatized the power of the presidency.

One was about getting Congress to act, the other about preventing World War III.

But first, a few words about Obama’s political fortunes: With reports surfacing about great improvements in the healthcare.gov website’s performance, what many have described as the nadir of Obama’s presidency may prove a short-term phenomenon.

Stone partisans aside, Americans want their presidents to succeed. With strong majorities saying they continue to like Obama personally, and to believe that he cares about people like them, he retains a reservoir of good will to sustain him until the positive effects of the Affordable Care Act become clearer.

However, if people doubt that Obama has the wherewithal to manage the gigantic enterprise that is the federal government, well no wonder. Like many intellectuals and nearly all writers — his “Dreams from My Father” is a real book, not a ghostwritten campaign bio — Obama confuses saying something with doing something. He also has a terrible time admitting error — another occupational trait, I assure you.

His failure to make sure that somebody with real-world management skills supervised the healthcare.gov rollout is the most incomprehensible blunder of his presidency. Had the site run properly, Obama’s ballyhooed “lie” about people keeping their insurance coverage — more of an opportunistic campaign exaggeration, actually — wouldn’t have caused a great ruckus, because most people whose insurance companies dumped them would have been mollified to learn that they’re getting a better deal.

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