Obama’s staffing problems are blatant — from that bleating boy of a treasury secretary to what appears to be a total vacuum where a chief of protocol should be. There has been one needless gaffe after another — from the president’s tacky appearance on a late-night comedy show to the kitsch gifts given to the British prime minister, followed by the sweater-clad first lady’s over-familiarity with the queen and culminating in the jaw-dropping spectacle of a president of the United States bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Why was protest about the latter indignity confined to conservatives? The silence of the major media was a disgrace. But I attribute that embarrassing incident not to Obama’s sinister or naive appeasement of the Muslim world but to a simple if costly breakdown in basic command of protocol.

Enough already! These slips are worsening the anti-Obama backlash, which began with the administration’s bungled handling of the grotesquely swollen stimulus package. Conservatives seem deliriously drunk with their cartoon picture of Obama, to whom is glibly attributed every pathology in the book. Yes, there were ambiguities about Obama’s birth certificate that have never been satisfactorily resolved. And the embargo on Obama’s educational records remains troubling. But I am still waiting for hard evidence about the host of other charges that are continually being hammered against him — from his alleged fidelity to the crypto-tactics of Chicago leftist Saul Alinsky to the questions raised by right-wingers about the production of Obama’s two memoirs. Out of respect for the presidency, conservatives need to put up or shut up about these issues.