The stops President Barack Obama is making on his “bus tour” this week through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois aren’t campaign events. The White House says so.
It says they ‘re fact-finding events, occasions to mingle with Americans outside the Beltway and opportunities for the president to tell citizens what he plans to do when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.
Apparently, someone in the White House — we hope it isn’t the president — thinks Americans are idiots. And that it won’t occur to anyone that a presidential tour in the state that just drew most of the media attention to the opening event of the Republican primary season might have been more than a coincidence. Or that our Democratic president didn’t want to be forgotten amid the Republican scramble. Yes, most of the GOP candidates moved on quickly, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new star in the Republican firmament, showed up about the same time President Obama did.
The president, rather than tell crowds of Democrats in Iowa and neighboring states about the detailed jobs and recovery plan he says he’ll present to Congress when it returns, would have been better served to work on the plan. He could have used the time talking to some of the business leaders who are waiting for greater political clarity before they’ll begin investing again in the economy.
And as long as we’re offering the president unsolicited advice, we think he’d be wise to pass on the vacation he and his family will take in Martha’s Vineyard when his bus tour runs its course. The Washington crowd might say the “optics” aren’t good; the rest of us would say that images of the president basking on the beach or playing with the rich and famous looks dreadful when almost one out of 10 Americans is looking for a job.
If the president needs some down time —Americans shouldn’t begrudge him some of that, particularly if members of Congress are taking a month off — he can hole up in the White House or go to Camp David. The latter is peaceful and safe, and a wooded retreat is a lot more than tens of millions of his fellow Americans can look forward to.
Who knows, President Obama might regain some of the magic that made so many Americans in 2008 buy into his vision of hope and change. Americans who are barely clinging to hope these days and don’t trust government don’t want him to talk about what he’s going to do. They’ve had enough of that. They want him to do something that improves their lives. And the sooner the better.