The cause of Obama's freefall in the polls can be reduced down to one simple word, "Credibility." Credibility is the board game of politics and the rules are fairly simple. Politicians begin their terms with a certain amount of credibility points that they can spend either on policies that will benefit the public or their own pet projects, hopefully both. The politician gains credibility points if things are going well for the average American, and loses credibility points when things go badly and his policies fail to make things any better.
As Obama has now discovered, the American people can be excessively tolerant, but they aren't stupid. And instead of realizing that with the Wall Street and auto union bailouts, he was actually spending credibility points without the average American having anything to show for it, Obama and his lackeys actually thought that getting into the White House meant an endless free ride. Now they are slowly beginning to realize they were wrong.
The American people gave Obama a lot of credibility points to start with, partly because of his optimistic can do rhetoric and because of the historical aspect of the election. The former probably weighed more heavily than the latter because Americans love to hear from a man who vows to tackle and beat tough problems. On and on they listened to promises of massive job creation, only to see job losses pile up. They might have been more understanding if Obama had actually looked like he was trying to create jobs, instead of mainly working to protect the jobs of his supporters at the cost of spending huge sums of taxpayer money.
With ObamaCare, the administration was out of credibility chips, yet like a gambler in Vegas tossing away his last dime, somehow thought the free ride would never end. But with no real credibility left, the combined opposition and concerns quickly threw up a wall that the Obama Administration and its media allies proved unable to steamroll. The missing factor again was credibility. And the longer the debate dragged on, the less credibility chips Obama had left until he was playing well in negative numbers territory.
Obama's worst sin in the health care hard sell was playing the American people for suckers. Had he given real estimates of ObamaCare's costs, admitted that middle class tax hikes would be necessary to pay for it, that medicare recipients would suffer, that people might not be able to keep their doctors and that some rationing would be involved-- support for ObamaCare would probably be better than it is today. Instead Obama not only lied, but he lied about things that anyone who has actually had health insurance or can do simple math could see were not true. And that more than anything else torpedoed ObamaCare, because it was a failure of credibility that made Obama seem either completely incompetent or a pathological liar. For now incompetent appears to be the opinion du jour, but that can quickly change if Obama continues lying so indefensibly that even an AP fact check can't help but after a few embarrassed coughs, determine that Obama is just wrong.
Meanwhile with the unerring instinct that fanatics have for playing Sisyphus, Obama's supporters have responded to every setback by going on the attack. Which may be sensible behavior in the opposition, but is destructive for the dominant party in a democratic system. Each time Democrats go on the offensive, the only thing they do is stir up controversy. Each time they try to demonize their opponents, they only bring more attention to what their opponents are saying. After giving millions of dollars in free publicity for Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Obama's media defenders helped boost Joe Wilson's campaign war chest and national profile.
The end result of their efforts turned the story from "Obama Gives Health Care Speech" to "Congressman Shouts Liar at Obama." Dogmatic leftists unable to let go of their attack dog instincts counted that as a victory, when they should have been really tearing their hair out. Not because they made Joe Wilson more popular, though that may come back to bite them in the end, especially if more Republican congressmen and contenders decide that confrontation is a short cut to a national profile and grass roots support, but because it once again made Obama's message controversial.
Every attempt to shift the issue to personal attacks on critics of ObamaCare, has only made ObamaCare more controversial. Yet the left is stuck in war mode, gleefully recycling their campaign tactics, without being able to realize that their campaign ended at the White House. Governing by attack may work in Venezuela or Russia, but that requires having your own secret police and being able to murder protesters and political dissidents. In a Democracy it simply makes you look shrill, incompetent, and yes controversial. And the public is less likely to support policies that are seen as controversial, and more likely to begin reading the fine print.
The Obama Administration has sought the authors of their own failure in some "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy", without grasping that the source of the stench of failure is in themselves. The Obama Administration squandered its credibility early and often, failing to connect with the concerns of the average voter, and using promises about jobs and the economy as window dressing for Van Jones' loony green jobs plan for destroying capitalism and as payoffs to contributors and supporters. And right when the public was most desperate for results, Obama and his Oompah Loompahs instead rolled out a massively expensive health care program that was exactly not what the American public wanted to deal with right now.
"It's the Economy, Stupid", was the public's message in the election. Obama used that message as a shell game, and with ObamaCare, the public had caught on to the trick. The average American voter is not yet prepared to vote anyone but Obama in 2012, but the frustration and annoyance is clearly rising. Obama's usual bag of frivolous shtick, his constant media appearances, interviews and speeches have worn thin. They were campaign tactics that played well enough in a media run race, but the campaign is over, and Obama's inability to let go of his endless campaign and actually govern has worn away his credibility. Because not even the most upbeat media spin or the most inspiring speech can create jobs where there aren't any or lower the deficit.
His address suggests that Obama is trying more for the latter course than the former. This is part of the "blinders" effect that comes from being an ideologue, surrounded by creatures of ideology, who view the American People as nothing more than pawns in a battle between two political extremes. This is the Marxist view of politics. It is not however how American politics actually works. And by disdaining the men and women who elected him, Obama continues his road to ruin in 2012.