Paul Greenberg

These folks he was subjecting to his oh-so-astute sociological analysis weren't clinging to their guns and Bibles because they were poor materially, but because their heritage, their faith, their history is so rich. You bet they're going to cling to it. And with considerable justification.

They know where they come from, these people. It is part of their being. And, yes, they're going to hold onto a heritage that is beyond price -- in good times and bad. They may even cling to it even more when their faith is tested. That is the nature of faith. For what good is a faith that holds up only in the good times?

The people Barack Obama was so neatly pigeonholing in a few ill-chosen words stem from the pioneers who followed the Cumberland Gap across the Appalachians to conquer a wilderness. They made those hills and vales American even before the American flag flew over them. Their descendants still draw their faith, and strength, from the intrepid explorers and settlers who crossed those mountains with, yes, a Bible in one hand and flintlock in the other.

One of the president's stops on his tour was at a general store in Boone, N.C. He seemed oblivious to the qualities that name still invokes, like self-reliance and freedom and adventure and in general the promise of this new world. They weren't seeking a European-style security but a new birth of freedom. But this president's slogan and message is no longer We Can, as in the last presidential election. Now it's Big Government Can -- even when the record of the past few years indicates it can't.

To spread his message this week, the president of the United States chose to grace the hills and hollers of North Carolina with his presence and that of his sleek, super-sized $1.1-million bus. (Are the U.S. taxpayers footing the bill for all that?) Let's just say his mode of transport wasn't exactly a covered wagon. Yes, Americans have come a long way since Daniel Boone's day but, on such occasions, the thought occurs that we've advanced only materially, not spiritually.

Listening to the president on his well-appointed Blue Ridge tour, some of us who have to take notice and even notes on presidential campaign speeches (for that's what he was really delivering) could only shake our heads sadly. No, the man just doesn't get it.

Barack Obama long ago lost the common touch -- if he ever had it -- but he still seems to believe he's talking the language of The People even when he's just spouting Washington nerdspeak. Or trying to do a poor, a very poor, imitation of Harry Truman giving 'em hell. Maybe because Mr. Truman was authentic. As solid as any other show-me Missourian. But this president shows more condescension than connection to the American spirit.

And the people this president presumes to speak for are starting to notice. Which may explain why they've stopped paying him much attention. Remember when one of his presidential addresses, whether before a joint session of Congress or at a general store in the hills, was an occasion? Remember when people were actually interested in what he had to say? Now? Not so much.

"It's as if he doesn't like people," to quote a loyal Democrat but independent thinker by the name of Mort Zuckerman, a real estate mogul and big time newspaper publisher in New York. He was one those earnest middle-of-the-road Democrats who back in 2008 thought Barack Obama was just what the country needed. He no longer does. And the number of Americans who share his disappointment seems to grow every day, presidential bus tours or no presidential bus tours. Because it's not what a president says that matters so much in this always practical-minded country, but what he does. And this president is not doing well.

Even worse, this president seems to think that doing it all over again -- another jobs bill, another economic stimulus -- is just what the country needs.

It isn't.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.