“What Are You Up To, Mr. President?”

That was the headline the New York Post ran in July of 1979 when Jimmy Carter canceled a televised prime time speech on energy and ran away to Camp David for 10 days of navel gazing, after which he delivered the infamous “Crisis of Confidence” speech that forever became known as the “malaise” speech.  Obama’s speechwriters may wish to dust off that speech, because it would seem that Obama, with a 26 percent approval rating on his handling of the economy (the single most important issue on the minds of Americans) is heading for Jimmy territory, as suggested here a few times recently.

So let’s see where we stand this week: the stock market tanked another 419 points today, the housing market continues to slide, the European banks are on the brink, and Obama decides to . . . take a bus tour.  Followed by vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.  And announce that he’ll have a plan next month.  Perhaps a new federal Department of Jobs.  Yeah, that’s the ticket; that’ll surely work just as well as Jimmy Carter’s remedy for the energy problems of the late 1970s—the Department of Energy.  (Just how many BTUs of energy does DoE produce?  [Crickets laughing.])  Why not just skip the nonsense and just go straight to a Ministry of Silly Walks?

Obama’s bus trip is looking more and more like the equivalent of Carter’s retreat to Camp David.  With his luck, one of those fancy (Canadian-made) buses will probably break down, outside a bankrupt solar power factory or boarded up biofuels depot.  But I’ll give this to Obama—he’s looking more and more like the fulfillment of one of Carter’s musings from that notorious metaphysical seminar:

I think it’s inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated, constant growth. . .  I think there’s going to have to be a reorientation of what people value in their own lives.  I believe that there has to be a more equitable sharing of what we have. . .  The only trend is downward.  But it’s been almost impossible to get people to face up to this.

Heck, Obama can get Carter to join him beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner that Obama will hang from the White House this fall.

Next stop: 22 percent approval rating on the economy.  Probably by the end of next week.

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