DOWD WAS WRONG…. Just a few days ago, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd explained what Americans expect from their president, especially when terrorism is in the news.

Obama’s problem, she said, is that while he’s inclined to “exert mental and emotional control,” it’s “not O.K. to be cool about national security when Americans are scared.” As Dowd sees it, the president’s calm, unflappable demeanor isn’t good enough — he should be “the strong father who protects the home from invaders.”

As difficult as this may be to believe, Americans’ attitudes and Dowd’s impression of Americans’ attitudes are not necessarily the same thing. Take the new CNN poll (pdf), for example.

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree that Barack Obama has the personality and leadership qualities a President should have.

Agree 64%
Disagree 35%

As Greg Sargent put it, “Whatever problems the voters have with Obama’s policies, his temperament just doesn’t seem to an issue for them. They don’t seem to want him to flaunt his emotions more or throw his weight around more or treat voters like children. No matter how many times we’re told otherwise.”

Also note, the same poll found that, despite the hype surrounding the failed Christmas-day plot, the public is less concerned about becoming a victim of terrorism than they were a few months ago.

This comes the same day as a CBS News poll (pdf) that found a 57% of the country approves of the way the president handled the matter.

Dowd’s take seemed fairly silly on its face, but public opinion is making her argument appear less insightful, not more.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.