Before President Obama headed off to his rented 28-acre retreat in Martha's Vineyard, he spent a few days campaigning around the Midwest in his new million-dollar, Canadian-made campaign bus, paid for at government expense. He even unveiled what many believe will be his new re-election theme: "Country first."
According to his new stump speech, if you oppose his agenda, then you don't care about America as much as he does.
"There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. What is needed is action on the part of Congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say we're going to do what's right for the country, not what we think is going to score some political points for the next election," Obama explained in Cannon Falls, Minn., in an event the White House insisted had nothing to do with campaigning.
"There is nothing that we're facing that we can't solve with some spirit of 'America first,'" he added, inadvertently borrowing the slogan of 1930s isolationists and the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan.
In news that will no doubt rekindle the hopes of the unemployed, the White House says Obama has an idea for how to get even more Americans working. Of course, it will depend on that "America first" spirit, which will really separate the patriotic from the petty.
And what is his big new plan for putting country first? Well, you'll just have to wait until September to find out. For now, his policy is Martha's Vineyard first.
So while we have this brief lull, let's take a moment to "compare and contrast," as they say in 10th-grade English class.
Rick Perry, the very Texan and very new entrant into the presidential race, said the other day that Ben Bernanke wasn't putting country first. "Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous -- in my opinion." He noted that the Fed chairman would be treated "ugly" if he visited Texas.
It was a poor choice of words for a presidential contender still finding his sea legs. You might even call it stupid. Bernanke is no traitor. His quantitative easing policy may have been wrong, but it's ugly and foolish to suggest he pursued it for less than honorable motives.
Nonetheless, Perry's comment has stirred up a whole kerfuffle, with editorials castigating his incivility and muckety-mucks hieing to their fainting couches. Widely quoted economist Nouriel Roubini called Perry "criminal" for his comments. "This may be the least responsible statement in the modern history of president politics," exclaimed Larry Summers, Obama's former economic advisor.