Following the passage of the unpopular debt-ceiling bill and a barrage of awful economic numbers, the Standard & Poor's downgrade of America's credit rating capped the worst week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Every president faces bad news. Not every one becomes smaller and weaker as he does. Character makes itself known in moments of hardship.
Americans respect presidents who are strong leaders, decisive and credible. In recent months, Mr. Obama hasn't shown strength.
Some of this comes from his compulsive need to blame others. For example, in response to the unprecedented downgrading, his administration lashed out at Standard & Poor's and the tea party movement. Implying -- as he did in remarks to veterans at the Washington Navy Yard last week -- that the economy's poor performance was related to the Arab Spring and the Japanese tsunami made him look foolish.
Then there was the president's Monday speech that, rather than calming fears, stirred them up. The stock market declined as he spoke.
What might he have done instead? First, he should have spoken over the weekend, so his words could sink in before markets opened. But after deciding to remain silent until Monday, he should have waited until U.S. markets closed. And instead of another robotic teleprompter speech, he might have brought in the press at the end of a lengthy meeting with business leaders for informal comments.