President Obama's “desire to begin a 'post-partisan' era may have backfired,” said Michael Hirsh in Newsweek. “Taxgate” has dimmed his luster, and despite the president’s high approval ratings he has let the Republicans control the debate on saving the economy. What happened to the “bold leadership” the Obama team promised?

Nobody wants to follow a guy who has become “laughable” after two weeks in office, said Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online. Obama preached ethics, then assembled a team of tax dodgers. He tried using the stimulus to shower Democratic constituencies with cash—we’re “teetering on an Obama implosion” here.

Obama’s rivals “smell blood in the water” already, said Tony Campbell in The Moderate Voice. And his base, expecting a “magic wand” of change, is growing impatient. “To my fellow Republicans—now is the time to clean our own house to prepare for when Obama really makes a mistake that people actually care about.”

Obama just needs to stop stooping to Republicans’ level, said Joan Walsh in Salon. He’s the Democrats’ Ronald Reagan, our Great Communicator, so he should stop getting dragged into petty squabbles over spending details in the stimulus package, for example, and hit “big themes” like rights, responsibilities, and getting through this together. People still want to believe Obama can make a difference.

You have to admit, said the New York Daily News, “for the first time, the normally sure-footed Obama is starting to look less like Mr. Cool and more like the untested amateur his critics always said he was.”