This Insider will be watching the president's major campaign speech in Ohio later today.
It will be interesting to see how much he talks about Mitt Romney and the Republicans' deficiencies vs. how much he talks about his own plans. Yesterday, President Obama rolled out a cute new metaphor about being stuck with the tab at an expensive restaurant. I assume this was an attempt at a new way of blaming George W. Bush for America's bills. It made the news, but I'm not sure it made a coherent point.
I'm increasingly convinced Obama doesn't know what to say. He knows he is for tax increases, but his reasons seem punitive rather than economic. He is for firemen and police. But the suggestion that he is alone in that support, or that Romney or anyone else is against them, is arrogant to the point of being insulting. Insulting not to Romney, but to voters. He shouldn't stoop to hiding his failures behind pious pledges of support for firemen and law enforcement.
Obama doesn't have a clear accounting of what portion of the debt was incurred on his watch, and if today's debt isn't too big already, how big does it need to be before we work to achieve whatever he is trying to achieve? Then what? How, when and who pays that tab?
So many of the president's pledges, from shovel-ready jobs to green jobs to an unemployment rate below 8 percent, have become punch lines; he has to be careful about delivering new words and phrases that can quickly be ridiculed and become fodder for comics.
So today, will he acknowledge some of the obvious about the need for limits on our debt, will he say it's not the right time to raise taxes, and that traditional sources of energy can be part of the solution to our economic problems, not part of the problem? Most important, will he try to clean up after his disastrous press conference from last Friday, not just by assuring us he knows the private sector is not doing fine, but by telling us specifically how much he wants government to grow as part of his economic plan?
Obama needs a lift. He needs something he says to be debated on its merits and not be greeted with guffaws, eye-rolling and shrugs. He needs today's speech to be gaffe-free, honest and include some truly fresh content. Stay tuned.