In his press conference Thursday, the president outlined his challenge for the remainder of his term. “I’m just going to keep on working as hard as I can around the priorities that I think the American people care about. And I think it’s legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general.”
Winning back credibility is hard for presidents. It requires either an emergency or the kind of candor presidents don’t usually feel free to express. Anything short of that isn’t likely to dispel the impressions people have formed as a result of the big event that caused them to lose their trust in a president in the first place. Given the difficult road the president’s health care plan has traveled, it seems like he is going to have an especially hard time winning back that trust.
What makes it so hard is that as a basic proposition, administrations are not really in the credibility business. When a president or his spokesman steps up to the lectern, no one girds himself for a bracing moment of honesty.