|From The Hill - Obama not at point of no return
Obama's defenders insist that he could yet be seen as enacting the right policies to guide the country through treacherous waters, even if the results are not fully evident by Election Day 2012.
They point to President Reagan as an unlikely parallel. Reagan won reelection by a landslide in 1984, despite a historically high unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.
Do the people at the top levels of the Obama campaign honestly believe this is a solid argument?
Those of us who have been sounding the proverbial alarm about the diminishing chances of re-election for a while now have not claimed that the best predictor of the general election is the unemployment rate alone. What we've stated on numerous occasions is that the best predictor is economic security metrics -- unemployment and income -- and the rate of change. The rate of change part is key.
From September of 1982 to June of 1983 the unemployment rate was at least 10.1%, usually at or around 10.4% and twice hitting 10.8%. From that point up to November of 1984, when Reagan was re-elected, there was steady improvement as the unemployment rate went down to 7.4% in October of '84 when the outcome was locked in.
Context: The unemployment rate at the start of Reagan's presidency was 7.5%. It was 10.8% when his party suffered massive losses in the the '82 midterms. The steady improvement over the next 2 years made people feel that things were headed in the right direction and Reagan won in a landslide. This is why "Morning in America" resonated.
Why the White House would think pointing to Reagan as an example of how the president gets re-elected is a good idea is beyond me.
From Wednesday's Wa Po - Nervous Democrats say President Obama must be bolder on economy
(Obama's) aides note that his unconventional 2008 presidential campaign also faced plenty of naysaying but ultimately proved successful.
There is undoubtedly much to be said for the Obama '08 primary campaign. They had an assist from Mark Penn being... well, Mark Penn, but then-Senator Obama obviously ran a very effective primary campaign. And I'm sure there was a lot of second guessing of the campaign's decisions. But as far as the general election goes, which is what the "naysaying" is about now, comparisons of 2012 to 2008 are way off base. In 2008, Obama was running after 8 years of the George W. Bush disaster. Then came the Great Crash, which ensured that Obama would defeat McCain. 2012 will be a much different story.
It is now crystal clear that a credible "11 Dimensional Chess" strategy, much like the Confidence Fairy, does not exist. Frankly, the president's approach to economic recovery and by extension his own re-election, as well as his prioritization of Beltway bipartisanship over results, is far removed from anything that could accurately be labeled "pragmatism." His handing of the debt ceiling debacle and the Contraction for America has been many things, but "pragmatic" is decidedly not one of them.
Michael Tomasky quoted William Galston(!):
"Sometimes, civic-republican pragmatism can be a fancy label for a fundamental misunderstanding of how politics works."
And now we have reason to believe that the president will help the GOP distract the country from the jobs/wages/growth/foreclosures conversation we desperately need to be having.
Robert Reich - "Why the President Doesn't Present a Bold Plan to Create Jobs and Jumpstart the Economy"
I'm told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn't understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.
So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it's politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama - to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington's paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public's attention from the President's failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.
As irresponsible, craven, reprehensible, and in some ways difficult to believe as this would be, as Reich points out, it tracks with what the president has been saying. Jed Lewison flagged Gene Sperling making statements that only really make sense if what Reich heard is accurate. And for the record, if Reich is a "hater" I doubt that there is such a thing as an Obama supporter. While running for the nomination, Obama was reportedly fond of saying that he listen to both Roberts, Reich and Rubin.
The Hill piece I linked to at the top of this post ends with this.
But one thing seems sure: Unless the nation's economic trajectory changes, and fast, Obama's bid for a second term will be facing the stiffest of headwinds.
So what happens now? That's something all progressive and Democrats are going to have to think through. In the meantime, here are two constructive suggestions.
Sign the Contract for the American Dream and spread the word about it.
Check out TAP's forum featuring "economists and policy-makers on how Obama can jump-start a recovery."