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A quick Friday news round-up

From NBC's Mark Murray
Listening to the pundits and reading the op-ed pages, it's a pretty brutal day for President Obama.

Paul Krugman criticizes the president's messaging in the health-care debate, writing that he comes across, "far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of 'bending the curve' but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama's explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee."

Peggy Noonan argues that it's time to pull the plug on Obama's health-reform plans. "I write as if health-care reform or insurance reform or whatever it's called this week is already a loss, a historic botch, because it is. Even if the White House wins, they lose, because the cost in terms of public trust and faith was too high."

Eugene Robinson, although much kinder to Obama, contends that Democrats have lost their intensity and focus. "There's not enough passion on the Democratic side, not enough heat. There's some radiating from the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, too little emanating from the Democratic majority in the Senate, and not nearly enough coming from President Obama. Republicans, by contrast, have little going for them except passion -- but they're using it to impressive effect." (That said, the DNC says more than 200,000 people participated in yesterday's strategy session on health care with Obama.)

And Politico has a piece about Obama's lost summer on health care and being forced to going back to square one in the debate.

All this comes as a new Washington Post/ABC poll shows Obama's approval rating dropping to 57% and those who have confidence that he'll make the right decisions for the country falling to 49%.

In other health-care news, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that no legislation will be able to pass the House unless it contains a public option.

And the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee Gang of Six met last night and Chairman Max Baucus said they had a productive conversation, although there were no breakthroughs.