Is cynicism the problem?

The Associated Press is using President Obama’s Minneapolis speech a couple of weeks ago as the underpinning of an analysis of his new strategy to resurrect his popularity born of hope.

“It’s easy to be cynical. In fact, these days it’s kind of trendy,” Obama told the crowd. “Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice.”

As in “I hope you politicians do something for a change.”

Shifting the blame to the people is a time-honored tradition of a stagnant country. Jimmy Carter tried it to mixed results, and that’s being pretty charitable.

John Dickerson called it “the most politically tone-deaf speech in American history.”

“If you’re fed a steady diet of cynicism that says nobody is trustworthy and nothing works, and there’s no way we can actually address these problems, then the temptation is to just go it alone, to look after yourself and not participate in the larger project of achieving our best vision of America,” Obama told college students last month.

“You guys,” he said in a Tumblr interview, “are fed a lot of cynicism every single day about how nothing works and big institutions stink and government is broken, and so you channel a lot of your passion and energy into various private endeavors.”

“What the president’s trying to say is, ‘I know we’re in stasis right now and there’s been gridlock for a while, but there are two responses to that,'” his former speechwriter Jon Favreau tells the AP in today’s article. “‘One is to stay out of the public debate and give up hope. That’s cynicism. The other is to say even with how bad it is, I’m still going to try to get stuff done.'”

Polls show many Americans are pretty disgusted with politicians. That doesn’t necessarily highlight a problem with the people.