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Leave the Driving to Us!

Obama’s bus tour through America’s heartland.

1:11 PM, Aug 16, 2011 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Here’s the good news about Obama’s luxury RV bus tour through middle America: For the first August of his presidency he’s not pushing the cock and bull line about this being a “recovery summer.” It’s a whole new president!

Unfortunately for Obama, there ends the good news. Yesterday one of the stimulus-fattened alternative energy companies Obama propped up went bankrupt. So much for green jobs. Meanwhile, in a town meeting in Minnesota, Obama helped put to bed the notion that he’s some kind of statist ideologue. Talking about the GM and Chrysler bailouts, he told voters:

[W]e turned around those auto companies -- they are now making a profit for the first time in decades, they’re gaining market share for the first time in years. But what we said was, if we’re going to help you, then you’ve also got to change your ways. You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks. There’s a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep on going up, you’ve got to understand the market -- people are going to be trying to save money.

Goodness knows how those crazy Tea Partiers got the idea that Obama wants to have the government manage the economy.

At the same event, Obama pulled out one of his favorite rhetorical formulations, what I like to think of as his “this is your last warning” line:

But because we’ve got a politics in which some folks in Congress—not the folks who are here—but some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than America win, we ended up creating more uncertainty and more damage to an economy that was already weak.

Now, we can’t have patience with that kind of behavior anymore.

I love this trope. Whether it’s hurting America or “bickering” or “playing games,” Obama pronounces that the time for this terrible stuff is over. As if it was perfectly fine to bicker and play games and throw your country under the bus four years ago. The subtext of this is, of course, You can’t do this anymore because I’m in charge, and therefore the whole world must now operate differently. So it was okay to vote against the debt ceiling in 2006, but we can’t have patience with that sort of behavior anymore—there’s a fierce urgency of now that didn’t exist back then. Or something.

But the best moment of day one of the Obama bus tour may have been a short exchange where the president agreed with Mickey Kaus that the New York Times is now basically the print version of MSNBC:

Part of it is the way our media has evolved. It used to be everybody was sitting there watching Walter Cronkite. Now, everybody is on their own little blog or their own separate news forum. If you’re a Democrat, you’re reading the New York Times. If you’re a Republican, you’re watching Fox News, right?

I wonder if the Times would dare take offense.

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