In a sign that the Obama honeymoon truly is over, I began to hear this week the first stirrings of a wistfulness about Mr Bush. “I never thought I’d hear myself say it,” one Democrat told me. “But Obama makes you feel that at least with Bush you knew where he was on something.”…

When the television networks cut to the President, viewers listened to him spend more than two surreal minutes talking to a gathering of Native Americans about their “extraordinary” and “extremely productive” conference, pausing to give a cheery “shout out” to a man named Dr Joe Medicine Crow. Only then did he briefly and mechanically address what had happened in Texas.

On Friday, when most of the basic facts were available, Mr Obama tried again. It was scarcely any better. He began by offering “an update on the tragedy that took place” – as if it was an earthquake and not a terrorist attack from an enemy within – and ended with a promise for more “updates in the coming days and weeks”.