A Matter of Trust

The catchy headline is that more people trust a guy who talked to an empty chair than the President of the United States, but that’s the Reader’s Digest account of the Reader’s Digest poll on the celebrities we trust the most.

Consider the top five: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, and Maya Angelou.  This poll is probably fun to report on, but did the respondents really give it that much thought?

If Hanks knocks on your door at 11:00 p.m. dressed in drag and imploring you to help him move Peter Scoleri’s lifeless corpse,  that trust would likely wear off pretty quick.

Calling these people trustworthy is a version of the word association game.  It’s a knee-jerk reaction, and not necessarily rational.  It’s fleeting, but it helps contextualize what we read or ear about them – even the bad stuff – so long as we are distant from it.

On the other hand, 45% seems low for a sitting President, and it seems like a number that could get beaten down – maybe with a steady drumbeat of stories about Benghazi.  Not a deluge of Republican arm-waving and histrionics, but a steady drip of stories about inconsistencies in testimony or incompetencies in strategy will keep the idea alive that the President is not 100% forthcoming.  The reverberations could extend into his legislative agenda and clip his wings as he tries to foist Speaker Pelosi back onto the country.

Benghazi probably won’t drive him from office, but as long as the story has legs it will whittle away the President’s shrinking cache of trust.

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