Prime-time TV tonight will feature, instead of a Barack Obama speech on the economy, a scramble of eight Republicans eager to replace him.
This President will propose emergency legislation on job creation at 7 P.M. tomorrow to accommodate the scheduling convenience of John Boehner and a network pre-season football game.
Is this any way to run a recession? While voters are eating dinner on the East Coast and those still employed elsewhere are at work or driving home in rush-hour traffic, the Leader of the Free World will be offering his proposals to save the economy at a joint session of Congress to empty seats that Tea Party incumbents plan to leave unoccupied in disdain.
What the White House has to say may reach an audience no larger than those of last week who were blacked out by a non-partisan Hurricane Irene.
Yet, for serious students of politics, tonight’s GOP debate may make up in entertainment value what it will surely lack in substance.
Rick Perry will be making his debut to offer himself as a low-rent, more animated George W. Bush with a Texas A&M degree in animal science instead of an Ivy League diploma.
On the stage with him will be the ghost of frontrunners past, Michele Bachmann, whose campaign was given a brief moment of plausibility by veteran political operative Ed Rollins, who has now decamped presumably to lend his future services to less loony candidates.
Mitt Romney, who unveiled his Tea-Party-friendly jobs plan yesterday in yet another move to preempt the incumbent, will smile and try to look prematurely presidential while Ron Paul, who has become the invisible man in the race, tries to climb back into view after being trampled by the rightward rush of the rest of the crowd.
Somehow the spirit of all this is encapsulated by Paul’s decision to aim his first TV commercial at Rick Perry not for his laundry list of oddball positions on issues but his support for Al Gore as president in 1988.
Back to the future, full steam ahead.