Chris Matthews devoted his opening segment tonight to the politically serious question of Obama's missing "vision" in this late stage of the general campaign. Say what you want about Romney's mysterious tax plan and supply-sided obsessions, but politically speaking, agreed Matthews and guests Howard Fineman and GOP strategist John Feehery, the Republican nominee has something programmatic to sell and the president does not.
It's a valid concern. Unquestionably, Obama's reluctance to pound a jobs plan has hurt him and helped Romney. It did rather surprise me, though, that neither Matthews nor Fineman (Feehery's partisan silence was understandable) noted that the antithesis of a missing jobs plan is, well, a jobs plan, for instance the American Jobs Act--and jobs plans cost money, and we're running a sizable deficit, and for Obama to politically expose himself by thundering on and on about either spending borrowed money or raising selected taxes to pay for a jobs plan would invite a torrent of even more "big-spending, higher-taxing" demagoguery from the slithering Mitt Romney.
Matthews and Fineman are, as you know, not the only ones who appear to be mystified by the bloody obvious. Watch any length of cable news analysis or read any political column and you're destined to encounter the ubiquitous advice: Obama needs to lay out the jobs future. He would, gladly--and in fact he did just a year ago--but he knows the price he'd now pay among eternally spooked independents who demand jobs but hate deficits and are thus naturally susceptible to the kind of demagogic rot that Romney just loves to sell.