Who in the administration came up with the brilliant plan of putting the president on what looks like the Darth Vader of buses and sticking him out in territories that are red hot with tea party fever?
Not only is he encountering hostile questions, but he also doesn't have anything new to say. People are furious over his handling of the economy, and the gimmickry of a bus tour by a sitting president, followed by more gimmickry in promising a new jobs plan after his vacation to Martha's Vineyard, makes the president look entirely out of touch.
And to add insult to injury, a recent poll of those who voted in the last presidential election showed that only 42 percent would admit to having voted for him! Where did his other votes disappear to?
I know it is not only common but almost required for conservative columnists to dislike the president or at least his policies. Obviously on the policy side there is plenty to dislike. But I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for this guy. He truly does look like a man who is in over his head.
Even his rhetoric is all over the place. One day he's pragmatic, the next day he's partisan, then it's back to sort of pragmatic and only a little partisan. And it made me cringe to see the president of the United States get into a verbal exchange over whether his vice president called tea partyers "terrorists." How should he know? It takes an army of journalists to keep up with all things that come out of Vice President Biden's mouth.
At least for now, nothing seems to be working for President Obama. But keep in mind that there have been many presidents who were floundering a year out from re-election, only to catch a huge break when the opposition party nominated an unelectable candidate. The Democrats' John Kerry in 2004 is an example.
Either that, or the beleaguered incumbent president starts to enjoy a change in the winds of fortune. Or both can happen, as it did to Bill Clinton in 1996, when circumstances suddenly started to improve and the Republicans nominated the capable but crusty Bob Dole. Ouch!
So the wheels are coming off the Obama bus, if you'll pardon the expression. All the more reason that the Republicans would be wise to stay mindful that things can change quickly on the American political landscape. They can't be overconfident that the defeat of Barack Obama is in the bag.
For one thing, the president will have more campaign money than any nominee in the history of politics. That can put a lot of distance between the cold hard truth and some more "change we can believe in."
Also, this absurd congressional "super committee" that was created recently to decide how to deal with the federal deficit is doomed to fail. That can't help Obama.
Or worse, a move to raise more revenue in the middle of a very fragile economy could easily lead us into a further extended slowdown and destroy the entire concept of seriously cutting spending.
There are plenty of dumb things the Republicans could do to destroy what, as of now, seems like a great opportunity to take back the White House and perhaps the Senate. Yes, they must find an electable candidate, but GOP presidential hopefuls beating up one another right now, or driving away the tea party -- which has put some fire back into the conservative movement -- is insane.
The GOP needs to keep standing its ground. But everyone should remember that when the wheels on the bus are coming off, you really never know who will get run over in the process.