The kindest thing many people in Mexico call Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon these days is pobrecito--poor little thing. The sobriquet refers not only to the President's bad luck in facing a financial meltdown just three weeks after taking office but also to his demonstrated lack of the political savvy he may need to navigate the rest of his six-year term. For even with a $50 billion international bailout to bolster him, the austerity Zedillo must impose will generate opposition from practically every quarter.

The bailout is already controversial with the public. In a poll released Feb. 1, 62% said they...

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