EJ Dionne, writing in the Washington Post, urges President Obama to set his inner Keynes free and lead the US and the world out of the dangers of another economic collapse, regardless of domestic political resistance.I’m not as confident as EJ and Paul Krugman this this would work either politically or economically. And I’m not so sure the inner Obama is as Keynesian as the outer Krugman. But EJ is definitely right about one thing: right or wrong, win or lose, when it comes to economic policy the President has no choice but to lead from his gut and speak from his heart.The country is deeply worried about the economy, and worried also that this White House doesn’t know what to do — about jobs, about the dollar, about the deficit, about the global financial crisis. The President has lost the country’s confidence on the economy and the White House is not currently putting forward a convincing narrative that would explain where we are, how we got here and what we should do next.This is one of those times when even the most cautious and cool headed of politicians must nail his colors to the mast. The national debate over economic policy has merged with the more fundamental questions of national identity and direction. Does President Obama believe that the blue social model is the only decent way to go — and if so, how does he plan to make it work? Does the President think the blue model needs fundamental adjustments to survive? If so, what are those adjustments that we need to make and how do we get there? Does he think its day is done — and if so, what will replace it and what will get us to the new promised land?I don’t think the country understands where the President comes down on these issues. (I’m not sure I do; my guess would be that he is in camp number two: reform blue in order to save it — more Tim Geithner than EJ Dionne. But I could be wrong and within that position I don’t know whether he favors minor tweaking or major change.)At this point the President needs to tell the people what he really thinks. He can’t make political calculations about what will and won’t fly. Maybe public opinion will agree with him and maybe it won’t, but if he isn’t seen to be leading from conviction rather than calculation I don’t think he can lead at all.