Trying to demonstrate his "common touch," President Barack Obama is engaged in a bus tour through the politically important states of the industrial Midwest.
It's not going well.
The president wants people to focus on jobs and the failure of the Republican Congress to create any. Yet, since the stimulus, he has presented no plan of his own, preferring instead to talk in broad outlines and to engage in the rhetoric of class warfare.
He's not alone in his unwillingness to set priorities. Obama's Democrats, who still control the United States Senate, have gone more than 800 days without proposing—not passing, but proposing—a federal budget. [Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]
Their fear of accountability is astounding.
Obama's bus tour is, as pollster Dave Winston told Politico a "really interesting" exercise in political theater but it does not address what is on the minds of most voters: jobs.
"We've got 9 percent unemployment and low economic growth. So the questions that voters are going to ask President Obama is," Winston said, "‘What are you actually going to do?'"
Indeed, what is Obama going to do? He is keying up a major speech on jobs but one can reasonably expect, if past history is any guide, that it will not be followed by a specific legislative recommendation. The man who voted "present" so many times in the Illinois State Senate seems to have a fear of putting things on paper. He likes to talk about big ideas but seems loathe to propose any—at least not any for which he can be held accountable.
The jobs question is going to follow the president through his bus tour, on his vacation in Martha's Vineyard and back to Washington. The Republicans are going to make sure of it. House Speaker John Boehner said as much Wednesday.
In the third year of his term, Americans are still asking President Obama, "Where are the jobs?" That's why Republicans, in contrast to the Democrats who run the White House and Senate, have made creating a better environment for job creation our number one focus. From our Path to Prosperity budget to our Plan for America's Job Creators—which was built on our Pledge to America—House Republicans have laid out a clear, consistent jobs agenda, and acted on it.
Seeking to cast blame on what might be called "Do Nothing Democrats," Boehner pointed out that the House has passed pieces of legislation removing barriers to private-sector job creation, ease job-destroying regulations, expand American energy production, and significantly reduce our unsustainable debt burden but that the Senate which, again, controlled by the Democrats, has failed to take them up. [See an opinion slide show of 10 wasteful stimulus projects.]
By failing to put anything on paper the president reinforces the idea that there is a leadership vacuum in Washington, something he can't wish away while speaking next to an armored bus somewhere in Illinois.