Even some Democrats are scratching their heads at the seeming detachment from significant matters. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” ran a montage of clips showing Mr. Obama or his aides disclaiming presidential knowledge of various issues as well as a graphic titled “Implausible Deniability.”

“It seems to me there’s a pattern here — with any bad news coming out of the administration, the excuse is the president just didn’t know about it,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois.

“There’s a point at which the I-didn’t-know excuse really violates the idea of the buck stops here,” he added. “We want to have a feeling that the president ultimately takes responsibility. The American people want to know they have a president who’s in control and in charge.”

Democrats were less likely to blame the president but suggested that he was ill served if other officials did not keep him fully abreast. “If people really knew there were to be problems, I was a little surprised that people at the highest levels weren’t aware,” Patrick Griffin, who was a top White House official under President Bill Clinton, said of the health care program.