America's confidence ebbs at a steady drip

With every passing week or month, it seems, some government agency or another has had a misstep or has been caught up in scandals that have deeply eroded public confidence. The Internal Revenue Service targets political groups, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by children illegally crossing the Rio Grande, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers up poor service, and the Secret Service fails to guard the president and his White House.

Now public esteem for the long-respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has plummeted with the arrival of Ebola on American shores. A new CBS News poll found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the centers were doing a good job, down from 60 percent last year. In fact, of nine agencies tested, seven that were judged highly by a majority of Americans last year have now fallen below 50 percent. Only one, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was rated well by a majority, and that by just 51 percent…

“As Bill Clinton used to say, most Americans start out thinking the federal government couldn’t run a two-car funeral,” said Bruce Reed, who was a top White House official under Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama. “Now they worry that one of the two cars should have been recalled and the other can’t go anywhere because Congress is still fighting over whether to fix the road.”