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Obama's bus tour themes: Washington (not him) really screwed up and we should spend a lot more

Obama rides his new Bus A8-11

President Obama did some real good talking the last few days out there in Iowa and Minnesota and Illinois. Well, he did a lot of talking anyway.

He made it sound as if he's been living in Peosta or Atkinson himself, the way he went on about all the misbehavior going on back there in Washington, D.C., where he has lived since January of 2005 and, since January of 2009, at taxpayer expense in the White House.

The way he described those D.C. political shenanigans, who would want to spend $745 million of someone else's money to get there? Or $1 billion more to stay there? Or pay $37.1 million of others' money to 464 aides to help him work there.

Here are a few things said by the Democrat who just spent weeks negotiating spending cuts. See if this sounds like a chastened spender whose credit rating just got downgraded:

When folks tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both....

We’ve got over $2 trillion worth of repairs that need to be made around the country, and I know there are some right here in this county and right here in this state. And we’ve got a lot of construction workers that are out of work when the housing bubble went bust, and interest rates are low, and contractors are ready to come in on time, under budget -- this is a great time for us to rebuild our roads and our bridges, and locks in the Mississippi, and our seaports and our airports....

I think to myself, you know what, if folks in Washington were carrying out their responsibilities the way you’re carrying out your responsibilities, we’d be just fine. We would be just fine. (Applause.)...

Of course, those folks in Washington including him are not in Washington. Congress is on recess, the same time-off Obama will begin today on another island vacation.Obama Eating Ice Cream in Iowa 8-16-11

Now, briefly a few words about the president's fancy new armored bus. Some media folks thought they had a gotcha moment because here Obama is out touting the need for more American jobs, which everybody knows, but Obama is still saying anyway.

And it turns out the fancy $1.1 million bus was ordered through a Tennessee company but built in Canada, America's hat.

This can happen because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the kind of agreement Obama is now touting with Colombia and South Korea as a U.S.-job maker.

Obama probably forgot about that huge labor forum in Soldier Field four years ago last week.

He'd been coming under attack by Hillary Clinton and other primary opponents as full of talk but too inexperienced, too young, too naive to become president. To make his bones before the union members, Obama said that in the White House:

"I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA, because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now."

As with closing Guantanamo, Obama hasn't really gotten around to that yet. And as any Yale graduate would know, Canada doesn't have a president. It has a prime minister.

RELATED:

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Obama's penchant for speeches now sounding hollower by the word

On Day 938 of his presidency, Obama says he'll have a jobs plan in a month or so

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Tannen Maury / EPA (Obama rides in his new bus); Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press (Obama downs an Iowa ice cream cone).

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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