After another day spent on the Gulf Coast in a show of empathy for the victims of the oil spill, President Obama will be back on more comfortable ground Tuesday evening for his address to the nation from the Oval Office. He will reportedly use it, among other things, to urge passage of the climate legislation known as cap-and-trade, which is intended to force major changes in the way Americans use energy.
Here, perhaps, the president has found an objective worth his full attention in a way the oil spill seems only lately to have become. There is a sense about this president that the mundane day-to-day duties of his office do not much interest him; that he feels he was elected to do great things and not grapple with the grubby details.
Confronted with a major recession, he left it to Congress to write the remedy in the form of a massive dose of deficit spending, much of it patently wasteful. He then signed the bill and quickly moved on to something more ambitious, the restructuring of the nation's health care system. Here again, he left the details to Congress and the result was legislation so costly and unpopular that a large public majority favors its repeal and the administration has mounted a major new campaign to sell the thing.
There is nothing wrong with a president having a large vision. The question about this president is whether he truly has a large vision of and for America, or simply a large vision of himself.