White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer “strongly disputed” the idea that Obama was less than passionate about the economic toll of the downturn and pointed to Obama’s recent speeches as “examples of the president making a strong case on the economy.”…

Maybe it was the chandeliered dignity of the East Room, but the fired-up Obama reverted to adjunct economics professor mode on Friday. Gone was the red-meat rhetoric as the president scanned his seven-minute introduction from large TelePrompters easily read by reporters, then calmly fielded questions from the White House press corps for the first time since late May…

“People who have lost their jobs around the country and can’t find one, moms who are sending out resumes and not getting calls back, worried about losing homes and not being able to pay bills — they’re not feeling good right now. And I understand that,” he said.

But “I understand” isn’t quite “I feel your pain,” says Jennifer Duffy of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, who says Obama – and panicked Hill Democrats – are being hurt by his inconsistent tone on the economy.