[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/25/obama.energy/art.obama.garden.gi.jpg caption="Opinion of Barack Obama as president continues at levels rarely seen in recent decades. "](CNN) - Across America and much of the world, opinion of Barack Obama as president continues at levels rarely seen in recent decades. Sure, there has been sniping from the right and a little slippage in the polls, but mainstream opinion – both in the polls and the press – has generally been lavish in praise.
That is why it has been jarring to read two of the most influential and mainstream newspapers in the world over the past few days, both of them harshly critical.
In editorials, columns and news stories on Saturday and again this morning, the Financial Times castigates the President for passive leadership. Among the headlines: “President Obama needs to lead”; “Obama is choosing to be weak”; “Cap-and-trade mess”; and “Punch-drunk Obama needs middle way on Tehran”. Meanwhile, the Economist spoke out in its new issue with a full-page column entitled, “The senator-in-chief: Barack Obama is too deferential to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill”.
The essence of their argument about his domestic leadership is that the President has assigned out to Congress primary responsibility for writing major legislative bills and then has stood by passively as the bills have been so watered down or become so flawed that they fall far short of what is needed.