As a political consultant, I was never all that good predicting what would penetrate voters' consciousness and end up influencing their votes, but I knew that it was often the "small" stuff. Either the bizarre, like transporting your dog on the roof of your car, or what we used to call "little drips of agony" — seemingly small paper cuts that eventually cause real blood to flow.
I'm fearful President Obama may be suffering from those drips right now. One after the other, the General Services Administration scandal, which Ed flagged when it broke; the Secret Service spree in Colombia; the horrible pictures of soldiers posing in Afghanistan.
Any one of these stories seem random, but together they may form a pattern for voters. Voters often put things together to shape an opinion in advance of pollsters' discovery. Perhaps that is happening now.
These events may speak to latent concerns about Obama's competency and toughness. They may be missed as problems by his advisers for two understandable reasons: 1. The president had nothing to do with these unfortunate events; he has spoken out against them and they are being properly investigated; and 2. They seemingly have other things to worry about.
But sometimes it isn't the big things; it's the small ones.