Indeed, I hadn’t thought of the Agenda in years, until I saw President Obama on TV, at another campaign appearance. His opponents say he has no agenda for a second term. In response his campaign has produced a booklet. It has glossy blue covers and a title to make a focus group swoon: The New Economic Patriotism. It’s a hastily assembled ragbag, stuff from the agencies and cabinet departments. Three and a half million copies will be mailed to voters. The president waves it around at rallies. It looks suspiciously like chopped liver.
Any veteran of the ’92 presidential campaign has learned to identify marks of intellectual exhaustion. The déjà vu this year is especially creepy. President Bush went to a Waffle House to illustrate Bill Clinton’s “waffling” on the issues. He took to calling Al Gore “Ozone Man,” and surrogates warned darkly of Clinton’s unexamined past, just as the president today dwells on Big Bird and “Romnesia,” and his surrogates raise half-baked questions about foreign bank accounts. Both presidents are dignified men, yet their campaigns have felt compelled to abase themselves in the same way for the same reason. They couldn’t think of anything else to say.
I see you can buy Agenda on Amazon for $141. It’s a ridiculous price, but I briefly thought of buying a copy anyway, for old time’s sake. Then I realized I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I had it—like an incumbent with a second term.