The real story is that his rhetorical and iconic detachment are harped on because they reflect a deeper disconnect, the truly problematic one, and that is over policy. It doesn’t really matter how he sounds. It matters, in a time of crisis, what he does. That’s where the lack of connection comes in.

The people are here, and he is there. The popularity of his health care plan is very low, at 35% support. Someone on television the other day noted it is as low as George Bush’s popularity ratings in 2008.

Yet—and this is the key part—the president does not seem to see or hear. He does not respond. He is not supple, able to hear reservations and see opposition and change tack. He has a grim determination to bull this thing through. He negotiates each day with Congress, not with the people. But the people hate Congress! Has he not noticed?…

In a way, Mr. Obama’s disconnection is a sign of the times. We are living in the age of breakup, with so many of the ties that held us together loosening and fraying. If the president wants to lead toward something better, he should try listening. If you can’t connect through the words you speak, at least you can do it through your ability to hear.