Coming soon to a bus stop near you may be the President of the United States. Faced with growing criticism of his economic leadership, Barack Obama is following the lead of Willie Nelson and traveling by bus to selected parts of the USA. Mr. Obama wants to calm the folks and show them that he is in high spirits. That is a bit different than Willie, who usually leaves off the word "spirits."
Anyway, what the president will likely encounter on his road trip is confusion. After more than two and a half years in office, many Americans simply do not understand exactly who he is. Even pundits, paid to analyze him, see him in drastically different ways.
For example, writing in Time magazine, columnist Fareed Zakaria calls Mr. Obama a "centrist and a pragmatist." But in the Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz describes him as "the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president." Two guys, two views—not even close.
The problem with Barack Obama is that he is not forthcoming about what he is really thinking. Therefore, it is difficult to assign him a category. On economics, his actions portray a screaming big government liberal who gambled heavily that the feds could jump-start the economy by redistributing wealth. He lost his shirt and so did many of his constituents.
But as far as the war on terror goes, Mr. Obama is General William Sherman, scorching the earth with Predator Drone missiles. A true liberal like George McGovern must be wondering what the deuce is going on.
If you listen to conservative talk radio, the president is an ardent socialist, and perhaps even a communist. But you don't allow real estate sharks like Tony Rezko to set up land deals for you if you're channeling Karl Marx. Yes, Obama-care is a quasi-socialistic program that, I believe, the Supreme Court will rule unconstitutional, but the true intent of national health care is to create more dependence on Washington, not to pay homage to Fidel Castro.
If you pay close attention to Barack Obama, he emerges as a man of contradiction. Surely, he is a devoted left-wing guy who believes the private marketplace favors the rich and government power must temper that, providing perks for the have-nots. But he's also a man who understands that America is still a traditional country that believes in God and the flag. The president does not often mess with that, angering many far-left zealots who supported him big in 2008.
Going forward, it is clear the president's base is shrinking while his opposition is mobilizing. George Soros and his band of wealthy ideologues are on record: they believe he has let the radical left down by not seizing IBM or something. The right-wing is simply crazed. They see Mr. Obama as a combination of James Buchanan and Che Guevarra. There is nothing good about him.
So, in order to win reelection, Mr. Obama must count on the non-ideological folks who are getting hammered by the awful economy.
At this point, there are not enough buses in the world to drive home a happy ending to that scenario.