FEAR FACTOR

Who's Scared of Obama?

President Bush was often criticized for using the politics of fear to win votes and win favors on Capitol Hill. It’s a quality President Obama is rejecting—or has yet to learn. But Politico says Obama’s inability to muster fear among his opponents has contributed to falling popularity and the health-care reform impasse. “One of the few areas of agreement on the right and left is that both sides want to see more strength of leadership from him,” says Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein. “There has to be respect—and fear.” Karl Rove agrees: “[On the Hill] they appreciate his diffident attitude, but I'm not sure it's one that inspires either fear or respect.” Instead of instilling fear and winning people over with a tough stance, Obama seems more interested in finding middle ground at any cost.