- - Friday, July 26, 2013

President Obama, the retailer-in-chief. Who knew? He’s making a series of speeches on the economy over the next few weeks to revive flagging interest in himself, if not the economy, stealing, sort of, from retailers who hold “Christmas in July” sales as the attention of shoppers is drawn to the attractions of summertime.

Kicking off his tour Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., Mr. Obama blamed the country’s economic woes on a generic “Washington,” as if he isn’t a part of Washington. “Unfortunately,” he said, “over the past couple of years in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored this problem. Too often, Washington has made things worse.” He repeated the charge on Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.

He called on his mythical “Washington” to set aside slash-and-burn partisanship, urging Republicans to find common ground with him. Skipping not a beat, Mr. Obama began slashing Republicans, who he described as coming in three varieties: Those who “privately agree with me,” but can’t support him for fear of “swift political retaliation”; others who dismiss every idea he puts forward “because they’re playing to their most strident supporters”; and yet others who “have a fundamentally different vision for America, one that says inequality is both inevitable and just.” When the slashing is done, he’ll burn what’s left.

Mr. Obama didn’t seem much interested in common ground when he said Republicans were for “shutting down the government just because I’m for keeping it open.” Such speeches demonstrate why Gallup finds that the public considers him the most consistently polarizing president we’ve ever had. The economic plan he previewed in Illinois and Florida this week is the same stuff we’ve been hearing for five years. “We’ve got to help more manufacturers bring jobs back to America,” he said. Indeed, the nation lags in manufacturing because the United States imposes the highest corporate-tax rate of any industrialized nation. But nothing appeared on the president’s teleprompter outlining a credible solution, such as a rate reduction that would restore America’s competitiveness with the rest of the civilized world.

Tax cuts get in the way of class-warfare rhetoric, which was on full display in his hour-and-four-minute monologue in Galesburg; he referred to the “middle class” at least 29 times. He referred to it 16 times in his abbreviated 25-minute speech the next day in Jacksonville. He includes himself as one with the middle class, but he shows no class loyalty. Official unemployment stands at 7.6 percent, and underemployment stands above 14 percent. The administration stubbornly won’t do what it takes to enable the private sector to create jobs. His signature would unleash tens of thousands of construction jobs through the Keystone XL pipeline.

A summertime sales pitch rehashing the same policies won’t free us from the economic doldrums. If Mr. Obama really wants to seize the public’s attention, he should try saying something new and different. He could surprise, astonish and even astound us if he demanded restraining government spending and cutting everybody’s taxes.

The Washington Times