It's late summer 2011 and the president is on a bus tour in rural Iowa touting some sort of plan for infrastructure improvements (roads and bridges), extending the payroll tax cut (on social security and Medicare) and getting ratification on some "pending trade agreements" (presumably with China).
Republicans counter it's simply a campaign swing on the taxpayers nickel (which is true enough) but they'd hammer him for cutting taxes (their lone signature issue) because they're like Pavlov's dog, automatically reacting to whatever he says or does, even if it's something they'd want.
The president is purportedly in a "combative" mode attacking Republicans for "standing in the way of economic growth" (has he been in a coma) stating, "We could do even more if Congress is willing to get in the game" (whew, glad to see he finally awoke).
One supposes his advisors (handlers?) realized his recent accommodation and appeasement of Republicans on the debt ceiling was seen as capitulation by most people who say jobs are the #1 issue and when polled put his approval ratings in the high 30% range when it comes to the job he's doing.
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden's former economic advisor said it's "futile" for the president to accommodate the Republicans as they block his agenda (where have you been?) and "he has to prescribe what he and his team believe the country needs and fight for it" (something progressives have maintained and hoped for since day one of his presidency).
No, the hard truth is "fighting for the needs of people" is what most of us thought he'd do when we voted for the man. The country was in dire straits when he was elected in 2008 and we expected (foolishly as it turned out, beguiled by his formidable rhetoric) a "transformational" presidency akin to FDR in similar circumstances in 1933.
Well we're all too aware that naïve notion collapsed early on and instead of a combative Franklin Roosevelt (who took on the financial perpetrators of the great depression they brought about), we got Casper Obama Milquetoast and an eloquent George W. Bush.
Now it's the onset of another presidential campaign again with the apparent alternatives Obama against some brain dead Republican with impeccable fundamentalist Christian beliefs that satisfy the hard right and believes "corporations are people, my friend", this according to Republican front runner Mitt Romney stating some such in a campaign rally in Iowa last week.
And to think, all of these campaigns are to be underwritten by cascades of corporate largesse whose origins are mostly hidden from public view.
Sometimes it all looks and feels like something out of Rod Serling's 1960's "Twilight Zone" series, but this is America circa 2011.
It's endless material for late night comics, Jon Stewart and the antics of SNL, but something to choke on for many of us.