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It’s the Economy Stupid. Oh Shit.

[ 162 ] June 2, 2011 |

This could be problematic.  I’ve been fairly sanguine about Obama’s re-election chances, but no incumbent has been re-elected with an unemployment rate over 7.2% since FDR (and the 7.2% belonged to Reagan).  It’s currently around 9%, and could possibly increase with tomorrow’s data.  It will not improve to 7.2% in time to have a (positive) effect on Obama’s chances in time for the election.  While the 7.2% figure is arbitrary, and this election might not hinge on the usual simple domestic economic factors, it is still cause for some concern.

While Obama is currently ahead of the extant / potential Republican field (Romney +7, Gingrich +14, Palin +17), and there is an informative debate surrounding the utility (or lack thereof) on polling data this far in advance of the election (which I wrote about here in February), I likewise don’t find much comfort from these numbers in June 2011.

What is clear is that Congress and the Administration are unlikely to find common ground over economic policy, and the Republicans are playing a game of chicken over the debt ceiling.  Indeed, I’m sure it’s not lost on some Republican members that it’s in their electoral interests to hurt, not help, the economy; hopefully they don’t seriously use the debt limit as their primary bargaining tool.  So in all likelihood, this is the economic context in which the 2012 election will be fought.

What could help?  It’s beyond blaming the previous administration.  Rather, a sustained, perceptible, positive movement over the next year would help, but that’s largely beyond politics or campaigning.  It may come down to having faith in the Democratic Party in framing an issue or issues to their favor, such as the Republicans’ Medicare policy.  Relying on faith in the Democrats’ ability at electioneering rarely places me in a comfortable position.  At least, as with our newest colleague here at LGM, I have a wedding to look forward to (one month from today no less).

As my grading is finally done for the academic year as of an hour ago, I imagine that it’s in my interests to start paying some more attention to said event.

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  1. Davis says:

    The direction of the unemployment rate is also important. If people perceive that things are getting better, they’ll stick with the incumbent. That’s what happened in 1984. Unemployment reached 10% early in Reagan’s first term, and came down to 7% by the election. With the Republicans calling for austerity in the midst of a fragile recovery, there’s not much anyone can do except hope for the best.

    • Glenn says:

      Perhaps, but one thing Obama could certainly do is make it clear that austerity right now is disastrous. But he’s not, he’s buying into the idea that we need austerity, just not quite as much as the GOP wants.

      Whether his calling out the GOP would ultimately make a difference to his re-election in the face of a shitty economy, I have no idea. Doubt it. But he could at least try.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        While the core problem is, of course, the actual state of the economy, the fact that today’s Democrats are fiscal conservatives (though more honest ones than the GOP) certainly doesn’t help, for at least three reasons:

        First, nobody actually cares about the deficit. Promising to cut it (except as a right-wing dogwhistle) attracts zero votes.

        Second, fiscal conservatism will not solve our economic crisis. Indeed, it will exacerbate it.

        Third, when the largest apparent substantive difference between the two parties appears to be that one screams about the deficit and is willing to raise taxes while the other screams about the deficit but is unwilling to raise taxes, guess which party wins?

        I agree that the Democrats need to be able to present a better story about the economy than the GOP. But the problem is not just one of framing but of ideological commitment.

      • But he’s not, he’s buying into the idea that we need austerity, just not quite as much as the GOP wants.

        No, he’s not. He’s responding to the GOP’s austerity talk by talking about the need to bring down the deficit in the out years. Which is correct from a policy perspective, and is a pretty smart political strategy. Just saying no to deficit reduction won’t work, so he needs to make the politics of deficts work for him.

        • Murc says:

          It depends on what you mean by ‘work,’ Joe. In my mind, politics only ‘work’ when they lead to correct policy outcomes or at least a healthy process.
          ‘Someone gets re-elected’ doesn’t really count, in my mind.

          Policy-wise the corrolary to ‘the deficit is important in the long-term’ is ‘but we need to spend trillions of dollars on stimulus, infrastructure, and employment programs in the short-term to ensure we are wealthy enough in the long-term to pay off our debts.’

          If you can’t use the politics of deficits to get there, AND your embrace of them leads to a hardening of a consensus that’s unhelpful, you’ve actually made things WORSE.

          • In my mind, politics only ‘work’ when they lead to correct policy outcomes or at least a healthy process.
            ‘Someone gets re-elected’ doesn’t really count, in my mind.

            Well, this is a discussion about the 2012 election, and Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

            If you can’t use the politics of deficits to get there…

            You don’t use the politics of deficits to get there; you use the politics of jobs jobs jobs. To run a campaign in this climate, you need to have a position on both sets of issues.

            • Malaclypse says:

              To run a campaign in this climate, you need to have a position on both sets of issues.

              Okay, so what is Obama’s position on jobs? The Republicans have one – tax cuts, which is their policy for everything, including cutting the deficit. What is Obama’s? The stimulus is pretty much over, and QE3, if there is one, will be a Bernanke policy, not an Obama one.

              • You mean, what will be Obama’s position on jobs when he starts running?

                Dunno. I guess we’ll see.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  No, I mean what is his position now? If nobody on a left-leaning blog can answer the question, isn’t that kinda a problem?

                • DrDick says:

                  I second Mal on this. What the hell is Obama’s position on the issue of jobs now that he is actually president, as opposed to a bunch of fancy promises about what he is going to do if elected (again), but which he does not seem to have done anything about when he had the chance.

                • No, I mean what is his position now?

                  Where “now” means “2011?”

                  His position is to keep the Republicans from doing as much damage as possible. That’s what happens when you lose control of Congress.

                  Where “now” means “now that he is actually president?”

                  His position is the Recovery Act and the long-term investments he talked about in his “Winning the Future” speech (most of which he was also talking about throughout his campaign and the first two years of his presidency).

                  but which he does not seem to have done anything about when he had the chance.

                  Uh, yeah, remember when he put his agenda on hold in order to pass the Recovery Act? Apparently not.

                • DrDick says:

                  Despite your sneering condescension, I shall indeed respond. What I remember is a grossly inadequate recovery package (as pointed out by a number of prominent economists, including some of his advisers, at the time) which was only a fraction of what was needed. I remember a failure to push for mortgage cram downs and to hold the people who crashed the economy accountable. So far as I have seen Obama has down very little to help the economy, for any value of the economy not equal to Wall Street and the financial sector. The auto bailout is the one notable exception and I do give him credit for that. The fact that unemployment is still over 9% and the administration does not seem overly concerned worries me a great deal.

              • I’d say the two most-likely possibilities are 1) long-term “winning the future” efforts (green jobs, bandwidth, modern infrastructure, education), and 2) denouncing the Republicans’ jobs policies (tax cuts, deregulate Wall Street, oppose the auto bailout) as having failed.

              • I’m sorry, don’t bother replying.

                I’m not interested in a “How has Barack Obama failed you today?” threadjack.

        • Oscar Leroy says:

          “No, he’s not. He’s responding to the GOP’s austerity talk by talking about the need to bring down the deficit in the out years. ”

          Did you just arrive on this planet?

      • Davis says:

        Yes, Glenn, the entire Democratic Party seems to have bought into the phony deficit hand-wringing.

  2. mpowell says:

    There may not be much that the Democrats can do. The Republican House can crash the economy if they so desire. Refuse to raise the debt ceiling without dramatic cuts in entitlements. Either way the economy crashes and Obama loses in 2012. It’s not clear that many Republican House members realize this would be the consequence or even that if they did, that it would bother them. As long as Obama is losing in 2012, their jobs are probably safe. (though they are all toast in 2014 when GDII hits for good)

    If this is the impasse that develops the only way out is for Obama to ignore the debt ceiling limitations (justified by the inherent conflict in legislation) and continues spending the money while ignoring efforts by SCOTUS to stop him. And there are not enough Republicans to impeach him or even votes to pass legislation to explicitly stop him. If you have a hard time imagining Obama trying this path, well, so do I.

    • Matt says:

      Either way the economy crashes and Obama loses in 2012. It’s not clear that many Republican House members realize this would be the consequence or even that if they did, that it would bother them.

      I think this is giving the pond scum otherwise known as House Republicans far too much leeway – I have NO doubt that they all know exactly what the consequences of their actions are. They’ve simply decided, as a group, that the outright destruction of America as a democracy is preferable to letting their beloved “government for the rich white men, for the rich white men” slip away.

      In some sense, I almost hope that they succeed. It’ll make for a terrible decade, but a likely alternative is watching the teahadis and the evangelical lunatics that have spent the last 40 years infiltrating the military establishment take power by force…

      • Adam says:

        Yeah, the two underlying hopes here are that a) Obama will re-frame issues well and b) the House GOP will forgo using the debt ceiling and economy to win as much advantage as possible.

        Good luck on those.

  3. Alan in SF says:

    Perhaps Obama could fill the Fed vacancies and ease monetary policy over the next year. Perhaps pigs will sprout wings as well.

    • timb says:

      How much more “ease” can monetary policy handle? They’re giving away money and the people who have it are saving it for a rainy day. When giving it away didn’t help, they started creating new money out of thin air, and besides convincing Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck that inflation was on the way, that did nothing either.

    • richard says:

      Monetary policy cannot be relaxed any more. You can’t decrease a zero percent interest rate. Krugman just proposed raising interest rates (to intentionally create inflation) so that the money people currently owe is made less valuable.

      • DivGuy says:

        They can change inflation expectations. Right now, they’re sticking with a 2% or lower inflation expectation. It’s not the greatest way to stimulate the economy, but it should have some effect.

        • dave says:

          How do you do that? Pay people to lie? That could never work…

          • Malaclypse says:

            How do you do that?

            Nelieve it or not, Bernanke discussed the possibility back in 2002, in a speech that recommended policies he has pretty completely failed to enact:
            By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.

          • DivGuy says:

            I wasn’t clear, I don’t get the language right on this all the time.

            The way quantitative easing works, I think, is that the Fed basically spends lots of money, financed through the printing of more money. This creates a higher risk of inflation, but also stimulates demand and opens up the use of idling capacity.

            While the better way to stimulate the economy would be with normal stimulus, the votes aren’t there. Monetary policy can be stimulative in the absence of legislative stimulus, though. The Obama administration doesn’t seem to understand this, or doesn’t seem to understand that making the economy better and getting folks employed is the only way they’re going to win the election. (And it’s, you know, the right thing to do and all that.)

            • The Obama administration doesn’t seem to understand this, or doesn’t seem to understand that making the economy better and getting folks employed is the only way they’re going to win the election.

              I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, yeah, actually Ben Bernanke and Austin Goolsbee actually do understand anything you understand about monetary policy, and then some.

              What they also understand is that monetary policy isn’t determined by the administration, but by the Fed board, who were deliberately cut off from pressure by the presidential administration.

              And the Fed board is irrationally afraid of inflation, or at least, they make it much more of a priority than job growth.

              • DivGuy says:

                If Obama’s administration had made a priority of filling vacancies at the Fed with non-crazy economists, back when the Dems held Congress, we would have actual quantitative easing going on.

                There was an opportunity to influence the Fed, and it was lost.

                • Agreed.

                  And this problems with nominations isn’t just limited to the Fed. Executive branch, judicial branch, military appointments – they’ve really fallen down the job to an inexplicable degree.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Yep.

                • Murc says:

                  From here on the ground, it looks to me that during the HCR fight, the White House decided it didn’t want to fight contentious nomination battles at the same time, and since ‘contentious’ is defined by the Republicans, that meant they just didn’t care a lot about nominations.

                  After HCR, the Dem Senate caucus and the WH decided filibuster reform wans’t in the cards, and without 60 Dem senators anymore it wasn’t worth going through the effort of vetting candidates and presenting them to the Senate in order to watch them languish for years.

                  That’s how I read the past few years re: nominations, anyway.

              • Furious Jorge says:

                I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, yeah, actually Ben Bernanke and Austin Goolsbee actually do understand anything you understand about monetary policy, and then some.

                Do you ever respond to criticism of Obama and his administration with something other than sneering? Because I read this blog a lot, and I don’t recall seeing it.

                • DrDick says:

                  Not that I have noticed. He might want to consult Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Noriel Roubini, Dean Baker, and Brad DeLong about these issues, as they have all been highly critical of Obama’s economic policies and actions (or, more accurately, lack thereof) and unquestionably know as much or more about economics than Obama’s advisors.

                • Then I guess you didn’t see the very next set of sentences in the comment you were replying to.

                  Which isn’t too surprising, Jorge. You’re very good at not seeing anything except the pro- or anti-Obama implications of a statement.

                  Nothing on the Fed. Nothing on the separation of powers. Nothing whatsoever about the actual response I made – but when it comes to charting my response on the Obama-meter, you’re on it like white on rice.

                  That’s Jorge for you.

                • He might want to consult Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Noriel Roubini, Dean Baker, and Brad DeLong about these issues, as they have all been highly critical of Obama’s economic policies and actions

                  Of course, my comment wasn’t about “Obama’s economic policies and actions” as a generic topic, but about the specific question of monetary policy.

                  And on the specific question of monetary policy, neither Krugman, nor Roubani, nor Baker, nor Stiglitz has any question whatsoever about the Fed’s independence.

                  But who cares about that? As always, the facts – heck, even the topic – of any issue is far, far less important that venting one’s feelings about Barack Obama.

                • Not that I have noticed.

                  Congratulations!

                  You fail to notice things!

                  Not my problem.

                • DrDick says:

                  Congratulations!

                  You fail to notice things!

                  Not my problem.

                  While confirming my statement with your response.

                  For the record, I am not a reflexive Obama basher, as you should know if you have been paying attention, I voted for him in the primary and in the general election, judging him the best available candidate. I still believe that and would do so again, even knowing what I know now. That does not mean, however, that I am happy with all (or even most) of his policies. I reserve the right to criticize what I see as the inadequacies and failings of his policies and approach to governing. His economic policies in particular have been underwhelming, as pointed out by the economists cited above.

                • While confirming my statement with your response.

                  Uh, your statement was about my response to criticisms of Obama, and this “confirmation” wasn’t made in reply to a statement about Obama.

                  And, the response I actually made in reply to a criticism of Obama was to point out that the actions for which he was being criticized – monetary policy, since you’ve forgotten – is under the control of a body that is insulated from pressure by the administration (a point which you’ve utterly to address, in your haste to assert that I don’t make substantive replies in response to criticisms of Obama).

                  I think this little exchange has made it quite clear, Doc, which of us brings up substantive points in discussions involving criticism of Obama, and which one of us ignores substance in favor of invective.

                  That does not mean, however, that I am happy with all (or even most) of his policies.

                  I’m not happy with all of this policies, either, which is why I wrote:

                  Agreed.

                  And this problems with nominations isn’t just limited to the Fed. Executive branch, judicial branch, military appointments – they’ve really fallen down the job to an inexplicable degree.

                  in response to a criticism of Obama.

                  Which, being DrDick, you failed to notice while producing your little treatise on how I don’t respond substantively to criticism of Obama.

                • DrDick says:

                  My point that you confirmed is your responding to criticisms with sneering condescension. You also seem to have failed to notice that I was responding to Furious Jorge’s post regarding your sneering at people who disagree with you or that my comment specifically addressed overall economic policies, not monetary policy. You are also wrong in that Krugman, along with DeLong, have criticized Obama on this issue, specifically his failure to appoint sane people to the Fed Board of Governors.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You are also wrong in that Krugman, along with DeLong, have criticized Obama on this issue, specifically his failure to appoint sane people to the Fed Board of Governors.

                  DeLong has now come around to the view that even reappointing Bernanke was a mistake.

                • My point that you confirmed is your responding to criticisms with sneering condescension.

                  No, your point is refuted by the demonstration that I respond to criticism with substantive replies.

                  Tell you what: you keep insisting that I don’t have anything to offer in response except sneering, and I’ll keep pasting the substantive replies I’ve provided to make you look silly and whiney.

                  Agreed.

                  And this problems with nominations isn’t just limited to the Fed. Executive branch, judicial branch, military appointments – they’ve really fallen down the job to an inexplicable degree.

                • You are also wrong in that Krugman, along with DeLong, have criticized Obama on this issue, specifically his failure to appoint sane people to the Fed Board of Governors.

                  Jesus, DICK, learn to fucking read.

                  Not only did I never say that nobody had criticized Obama for not making appointments, I MYSELF WROTE THAT, AND HAVE BEEN PASTING IT OVER AND OVER, you illiterate chimp.

                  How you managed to read the statement What they also understand is that monetary policy isn’t determined by the administration, but by the Fed board, who were deliberately cut off from pressure by the presidential administration. and interpret it as “Nobody has criticized Obama for his appointments” is beyond me.

                  Wait, no it’s not. As I said, you excel at seeing things, and not seeing things, depending on what you want to believe.

                • DrDick says:

                  No, your point is refuted by the demonstration that I respond to criticism with substantive replies.

                  Accompanied by sneering condescension. In case you forgot:

                  I think this little exchange has made it quite clear, Doc, which of us brings up substantive points in discussions involving criticism of Obama, and which one of us ignores substance in favor of invective.

                  I never said that you do not also offer substantive responses, only that you accompany them by sneering at those who disagree with you, especially to criticisms of Obama. It makes it very difficult to debate the issues with you. If I say, as the economists I cite have also done, that Obama has done too little to resolve our economic problems and that he does not fight hard enough for these programs, then you respond by attacking me, sometimes accompanied by counter examples.

      • asdfsdf says:

        You actually can decrease a zero percent interest rate. A negative interest rate is when you get charged money to keep your money in a bank. The Swedish central bank has a negative interest rate right now, if I recall correctly.

    • soullite says:

      There is nothing that could be done in terms of policy that would turn things around by the time most voters will make up their mind come 2012.

      IF you wanted to get on Obama’s ass to do something, you had to do it years ago. You know, when you guys were screaming that he was the best we could ever get and telling those of us who actually trying to light a fire under him that we were racists and haters.

  4. Davis X. Machina says:

    The Tories came within a Nick-Clegg’s-ego-length of winning a general election outright after promising voters, in advance, explicitly and up front, that if given power they were going to do things known to exacerbate the recession, delay recovery, and screw over the Man on the Clapham omnibus.

    I see no reason why the GOP couldn’t do the same.

    • Murc says:

      To be fair, in Britain (and Canada!) you can ‘win’ an election with 60% of the country hating you. (And they like it like that.) I’d like to see that happen with the White House sometime. For a given value of ‘like.’

      • dave says:

        Clinton, ’92, 43% of the vote. Close enough?

        • Murc says:

          Mmm, fair point. I was 11, so I wasn’t paying that much attention. You’d think that would have called the legitimacy of the process into question. And yet. Maybe I shouldn’t mock Canada and Britain so much.

        • DivGuy says:

          Not really. Clinton won his election against a truly centrist third party. Perot’s voters were basically split evenly in their secondary preference, between Clinton and Bush. Without Perot, Clinton would have won a perfectly normal majority.

          The success of the Tories in the UK and Canada has to do with an actual fracturing of the left, where voters who find the two center-left parties far more appealing than the center-right party split their vote between two parties and give government to the right.

          Lincoln is a better example, I think. The Whigs, the Southern Dems, and the Northern Dems all opposed the Republicans on slavery policy, but split their vote badly.

          • dave says:

            Indeed, but in a winner-takes-all election, it doesn’t really matter what people’s ‘second preferences’ might have been. When there’s a third party, it would be the expected case that it garners votes that would have gone to one side or the other in a two-party race. Hypothesising about the consequences of that doesn’t alter the actual outcome.

        • timb says:

          Lincoln, 39% Doesn’t mean it regularly happens

  5. Ken Houghton says:

    I’m sure it’s not lost on some Republican members that it’s in their electoral interests to hurt, not help, the economy; hopefully they don’t seriously use the debt limit as their primary bargaining tool.

    Don’t live here, do you, DaveB? Admire your (very misplaced) optimism.

    • dave brockington says:

      I split time between the UK and the US (flying back in less than two weeks in fact). I’m not terribly optimistic, just hopeful. I do believe that there are just enough idiots in the Republican caucus to make this dangerous.

  6. Ben says:

    Is there research which looks at the electoral consequence when the unemployment figure is broken down into different categories? For ex. the electoral consequences of varying differences b/t the “didn’t finish HS” number and the “college degree” number, or b/t the number for men and the number for women.

  7. Bruce Wilder says:

    Obama will win, because he will not be opposed by a viable or credible (or funded and Media-supported) Republican candidate.

    Obama’s function in our politics is to prevent an effective oppostion to the plutocrats from forming, and he does that very well. Plus, if the economy does crash again — and the risk is high and rising, given actual, pro-plutocrat policy — the “liberal” Obama will be blamed, further de-legitimizing any potential Left.

    Most of the plutocrats will not be giving up Obama easily.

    • jeer9 says:

      Yes. And there is no credible or viable third party lefty candidate. The fix will be in when Pawlenty or Mittens select a loony tune as VP. Hopefully, this time they’ll have at least met the nominee once or twice to make it look like some deliberation occurred. Nose-holding will be the dominant voting gesture next year.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Obama’s function in our politics is to prevent an effective oppostion to the plutocrats from forming, and he does that very well.

      Of course, to be fair, the same could be said of FDR.

      • Slocum says:

        Not sure what you mean with that– is it that if it true of FDR it can’t be so bad after all?

      • DrDick says:

        As I often do say. For all the Gooper’s screams, FDR probably saved capitalism and as much of elite privilege as he could by enacting the bare minimum of the existing socialist programs to prevent a revolution.

      • stevo67 says:

        but the plutocrats of FDR’s time were too stupid to realize he was saving them.

        • DrDick says:

          Actually a fair number did recognize it, which is why we did not get a serious attack of the crazy greed heads until the late 70s-early 80s.

      • Bruce Wilder says:

        It would be fair to say that FDR’s function in American politics was to prevent a violent revolution, from Right or Left, but not that he prevented opposition to the plutocrats. FDR was a rallying point for an effective opposition.

        The Great Depression was a long stalemate over the distribution of income, but there was no doubt about which side FDR was on, and when war came, FDR used control of the economy to decide the issue in favor a broader middle-class. Regulation of the banks ended a long period of financial predation and high incomes for banksters. Industrial unionism spread and raised wages broadly. Social Security was enacted. Regulation of working hours and conditions was established, as was regulation of public utilities.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Given a sufficiently bad economy, any GOP candidate is viable (the same is true, in reverse, for any Democratic candidate when the GOP holds the White House). That’s the way the two-party system works.

      Conservatives figured this out a half century ago.

      Progressive Democrats, who have paid an enormous price over the last four decades for the misplaced belief that actually progressive candidates aren’t viable, are likely to learn the hard way that any major party nominee, under the right circumstances, can win the White House.

      Let’s hope that they have enough presence of mind to apply this lesson in the 2016 Democratic primary race.

      • DivGuy says:

        Predicting the future is hard. Nominating the most progressive candidate you’ve got could cost you the election in a close year. It’s not a crazy thing to worry about – the Republicans got some hard-rightists into Congress in 2010, but they also lost three very winnable seats (CO, UT, DE) because of their choice of nominee.

        It’s a matter of picking your battles, I think.

        I guess, though, that the calculation is different for the left because there are so few of us, compared to the right. Leftists, one could argue, aren’t going to determine the outcome of most races in the way that the right can, so we should throw our full support behind whatever non-crazy candidate is closest to us, ideologically, in order to push the national debate as far to the left as possible. That seems reasonable. I’m not sure what the immediate lessons from that would be, though.

        • DivGuy says:

          And obviously that’s Nevada, not Utah. All them western states look alike to me.

        • timb says:

          Personally, I’ll stick with a governing coalition of some liberals, than one which consists of Limbaugh fans and the people who thinks Limbaugh is inauthentically conservative because he doesn’t love Jesus enough.

        • Murc says:

          we should throw our full support behind whatever non-crazy candidate is closest to us, ideologically, in order to push the national debate as far to the left as possible.

          I’m not sure it works like that.

          I’m not flat-out syaing you are wrong, but it seems like an inevitable consequence of ‘support the closest idealogical non-crazy candidate’ is a drift TOWARDS crazy, not away from it. It establishes a low bar to clear to get a chunk of leftist support, and then you run as far to the right as possible to scoop up whoever else you can, because why not?

          A big part of the reason for the rightward shift in the country is ‘the crazy.’ The right doesn’t care if someone they think will burn down the country gets into power, they’d rather be right(correct) than win, which means people who want to win on the right(political) concentrate on BEING right(correct) in order to have any chance at all to get into office.

          The difference, of course, is that a liberal President ins’t REALLY going to surrender the country to the UN and unleash back helicopters to suppress thoughtcrime, whereas a conservative one might actually try to do things like nuke Iran.

          • Hogan says:

            a liberal President ins’t REALLY going to surrender the country to the UN and unleash back helicopters to suppress thoughtcrime

            It’s true. I don’t know why I bother trying any more.

          • DivGuy says:

            I’m not flat-out syaing you are wrong, but it seems like an inevitable consequence of ‘support the closest idealogical non-crazy candidate’ is a drift TOWARDS crazy, not away from it.

            How so? It seems that only works if you argue that “crazy” is defined as being “left”. I was talking about the sort of free-floating crazy that doesn’t really map to ideologies – about people who just won’t win votes or elections because they’re too weird. I was basically trying to exclude Kucinich and his UFO stuff. A Dennis Kucinich who didn’t have the wacky baggage – a Dennis Kucinich who was exactly identical ideologically to the actually existing Dennis Kucinich – would be a pretty darn good candidate for the left to rally behind.

            It seems to me that you’re basically a person of the center-left, who doesn’t want the Democrats to move further to the left. That’s a perfectly fair ideological position to take. But I think it should be made without reference to people to your left as “crazy”.

            • Holden Pattern says:

              I am very sure that Malaclypse is identifying movement conservatism as “crazy”, and pointing out that the Dems constantly running as “not quite as crazy and as slavishly devoted to our corporate overlords as the Republicans” is actually an enabling behavior (a) for the crazy right, and (b) for our corporate overlords.

              IOW, if all you have to do to get everyone to the left of Ronald Reagan to vote for you is not be batshit Bircher crazy, that’s pretty much all you’ll do, because it’s personally more profitable for you and structurally the path of least resistance in our current two-party, corporate-funded system.

              Honestly, I’m not sure how you could have read Malaclypse’s comment any other way, and certainly not as describing the American left as crazy. For one thing, all that most of the American left wants is to implement a set of policies that we have seen work elsewhere — it’s not as if we’re Maoists (corporate-Dem apologist mouthpieces to the contrary).

              We are of course, petulant hippie purists who don’t understand politics and just need to shut the fuck up because everybody hates us, there aren’t quite enough of us for a politician to give a shit about us, but there are just enough of us to blame when a Dem loses. Those narratives come prepackaged six to a box.

              • Malaclypse says:

                I think it was DivGuy talking about crazies, not me. Not sure with all the nesting.

                • Holden Pattern says:

                  Whoops, it was Murc. My bad.

                • Murc says:

                  Being mistaken for Mal is kind of a weird honor that my intempetrate screeds don’t really deserve. Next objective: being mistaken for Doctors Dick AND Amazing. LGM Commenter Hat Trick right there.

                  And what Holden said. He interpreted my comment in the manner in which I intended it.

            • wengler says:

              The reason you characterize Dennis Kucinich “with the UFO stuff” is because the corporate media hate him.

              Both Carter and Reagan also saw UFOs and cited it more than some oppo researcher finding it in an old Hollywood star’s autobiography.

        • I guess, though, that the calculation is different for the left because there are so few of us, compared to the right.

          Good point. This is why Rachel Maddow’s formula “Republicans fear their base; Democrats hate theirs” doesn’t work. Those loony-toons Republicans that make their candidates swear fealty to dismantling Medicare and kissing up to birthers actually are the voting base of the Republican Party.

          Their equivalents on the left, on the other hand, have a vastly outsized media presence, especially on the internet, but they don’t have anything close to the electoral pull of, for instance, people who attend Tea Party rallies.

          • DocAmazing says:

            Several things at work here:
            -The electoral and senatorial influence of right-wing loons is magnified by their tendency to live in low-density but well-represented states like Wyoming. People who do not suffer from antisocial personality disorder tend to live where there are other people; this, unfortunately, dilutes their individual voting power thanks to the Electoral College and the structure of the Senate.
            -The major media are owned by an ever-shrinking number of large corporations with interlocking directorates. It is in their interest that tax-slashing, civil-liberties-fearing gobblers get positive press, and that people who contest crony capitalism be tarred as irrational. Thus, a rally of tens of thousands protesting the invasion of Iraq is a Page 23 item, while a dozen teabaggers Hoverounding in a federal building parking lot is Page One Above The Fold.
            -Dems get their big donations from the same place Republicans do. They aren’t going to piss off the donors.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Somewhere, Hunter Thompson wrote that anybody who got the nomination of one of the two parties would get 40% of the vote, no matter how crazy they are. That always sounded pretty right to me.

  8. soullite says:

    A month ago, everyone acknowledged that the Bin-Laden Bump wouldn’t last to re-election. Now half the internet is treating the current numbers like they’re the result of some god-given level of natural electoral support.

    Obama’s natural level of electoral support is 45%. That is what he polls outside of positive ‘bump’ news. That is what his numbers settled at after innauguration. That is where his numbers settled after the Giffords bump. That is where his numbers will settle in another two months when the Bin-Laden bump has completely faded.

    Plutocrats can’t rig the vote for him. Having a hardcore support from the much-smaller-than-2008 Democratic Party won’t save him. Having an ‘unviable’ Republican candidate won’t save him.

    Seriously, if Plutocracy was rigging actual elections, we’d be seeing different results. If have a smaller, personality-cult driven party got success, the Republicans would have never lost the house and neither would you have. When has the ‘viability’ of a Presidential candidate mattered? Kerry and McCain were ‘viable’; Reagan and Bush were ‘not viable’. For that matter, when have you ever considered a Republican candidate to be ‘viable’.

  9. bob mcmanus says:

    Let me see, what are the headlines

    Moodys may downgrade BofA, Citi, Wells
    Goldman-Sachs predicts $140 barrel oil next year
    G-S gets subpoena
    Oh, and Europe.

    I give it a 25% chance of another Oct 08 event and U-3 looking toward 15-20% by election day. They blew it, and you better believe a Republican can win.

    And what soulite and Wilder said. We desperately needed a radical;we got a coward and tool. There are still things Obama could do in time. They are mostly illegal and unconstitutional.

    So Freaking What. Congress and SCOTUS can sue him.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Goldman-Sachs predicts $140 barrel oil next year

      Holy crap, they do. Good thing TPM is going with wall-to-wall Weinergate coverage.

      • stevo67 says:

        they’re predicting $140/bl because their Commodities Desk will be shorting everyone at $135/bl.

      • timb says:

        That’s because, as Taibi pointed out, they are the ones who make money driving the speculative bubble on commodities and, thus, have the most to gain on speculation.

        Meanwhile, they probably bet short on silver and oil in the last few months and cleaned when the bubble momentarily deflated

  10. Tom Allen says:

    You know the Administration’s brilliant economic team? The ones without a Plan B? I’m thinking they’d all like to spend some more time with their families. They wouldn’t even have to ask Congress.

    But then, I suppose punishing failure would send a bad signal to Wall Street.

  11. R. Johnston says:

    All the models that support the “it’s the economy, stupid” theory of Presidential elections are based on a sample set of past elections that doesn’t include any examples of a moderately popular sane but flawed incumbent President running against a certifiably insane unpopular lunatic representing a political party that’s plunged over the deep end of crazy.

    While Presidential elections under circumstances that prevailed in the past have mostly been about the economy, the circumstances that prevailed in the past no longer prevail and it’s foolish to presume that this election will be all about the economy. It may be, but models based on elections held under significantly different circumstances than currently prevail can’t be used to conclude that it will be.

    • DivGuy says:

      Republicans not perceived as lunatics: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman

      Republicans perceived as lunatics: Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann

      Republicans not percevied as lunatics, but whom no one likes regardless: Newt Gingrich

      I think it’s far more likely that a Republican from group (a) wins the nomination than that a Republican from groups (b) and (c) does. If that happens, and unemployment is still stagnant, the Republicans will win. If one of the crazies snags the nomination, it’ll still be close, and if we see another actual collapse, it won’t matter how crazy the Republicans have gotten, they’ll win.

      • Adam says:

        There’s no “if” a candidate from group B wins. In the Republican Party, members of group A always win. This is the party of the Chamber of Commerce. Ignore the news up until the nominating convention; it’s all noise.

        Crazy right-wing blogospheric types who grumble about and libel Romney now will be praising him in September. Again, all noise.

        • Malaclypse says:

          In the Republican Party, members of group A always win.

          Reagan was in Group B in 1980. Bush 1 was Group A.

          • Barry Goldwater wasn’t exactly Team A, either.

            • Malaclypse says:

              True enough, but I have no memories of him.

              • DrDick says:

                I do and the slogan was right. In your guts, you know he is nuts! He really is the godfather of the modern conservative movement, both ideologically and in practical terms as many of the key operatives got their start working on his campaign.

                • Left_Wing_Fox says:

                  What’s frightening is that on issues of abortion (none of my business), environmentalism (member of the Sierra Club) and religious tolerance (despised the rise of the reagan right and the Moral Majority), Barry Goldwater would be thrown out of the modern republican party as being a RINO.

  12. Janet says:

    I’m not sure this statistic means much. As far as I can see, it applies to Carter and to Bush, Sr. That’s not a huge sample size.

  13. wengler says:

    The problem here is that the Republicans are stupid but also nasty and dangerous when backed into a corner. They backed themselves into that corner with their “destroy Medicare” Ryan plan. Now the only way they can get out of it is to try to make it bipartisan. They thought they were going to get Obama to pass their massively unpopular agenda all along, but now after NY-26 it is going to take some epic destruction and fear of chaos to do it.

    The confidence that some people here had that the Republicans would follow their corporate handlers’ instruction and vote for the debt limit increase should totally be deflated. Without old people the Republicans aren’t going to get hardly 100 seats in the House in 2012. They are now fighting for the relevancy of their party. What Obama needs to do is either detail what his administration will do in early August to avoid default. The Republicans have made it clear that they will accept no cuts other than those made to Social Security or Medicare specifically because of their precarious political situation.

    So it’s time to play chicken. If the Republicans don’t swerve out of the way(and they sure do look like they are on a suicide mission) Obama needs to find a lawyer(in the Bush tradition) to allow the executive to issue its own debt bonds. Obama needs to make it clear that he will go to the edge of his Constitutional authority to avert disaster. If he doesn’t then the crazy will have taken over the asylum.

    • Slocum says:

      I think your last para goes even too far re: what Obama needs to get reelected even with the economy in the tank. He needs to lay out practical economic agenda focused on jobs and stimulation. It should have 3 points, well-explained, and should be doable–and seen as doable to anyone willing to think about it for a few minutes.

      Then, the Repubs can play their reflexive opposition game, Obama can point out that they are complete unreasonable obstructionists. Just let them keep hitting themselves.

      • wengler says:

        I’m not disagreeing with you on the policy, but not being able to borrow money because Republicans are determined to blow up the country because people don’t like them is a real thing.

        They are acting exactly as their Wall Street sponsors did during the bailout crisis. Give us what we want or the country gets it.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      “They thought they were going to get Obama to pass their massively unpopular agenda all along”

      They “thought” Obama would pass their agenda? You mean the Heritage Foundation/Mitt Romney plan to force people to buy insurance, or massively expanding offshore oil drilling, or codifying into law the military commissions and endless detentions of Guantanamo Bay, or basing our educational system on test scores and charter schools? Yes, good thing Obama hasn’t been passing Republican ideas.

  14. actor212 says:

    And no President was re-elected with a sub-50% approval rating.

    …until 2004

    This is not something to be that worried about. I think people will ignore the jobs number if Obama does other things to show that he’s at least in touch with what’s happening.

    • wengler says:

      Republicans are the ones skilled at voter suppression.

      Unless you believe Fox News, it’s not going to be white Republican voters filling out those provisional ballots that will never get counted.

      • actor212 says:

        That didn’t seem to work very well in 2008. Not disagreeing with you, and I suspect Palast is probably snooping around for caging lists as we discuss this, I’m just saying that if Obama makes his case, and I think he can, he’ll win pretty easily.

  15. Joe’s Really Complicated Theory of Presidential Politics:

    The candidate with more talent as a politician wins, except under extreme circumstances.

    Obama beat McCain. Bush beat Kerry. Bush beat Gore. Clinton beat Dole. Clinton beat Bush. Bush beat Dukakis (let’s call that one a push, talent-wise). Reagan beat Mondale. Reagan beat Carter. Carter beat Ford (again a push, and the first presidential election after Watergate). Nixon beat McGovern. Nixon beat Humphrey (a push, in a year the Dems split over the war). LBJ beat Goldwater. Kennedy beat Nixon.

    I think it’s safe to assume that Barack Obama is a more talented politician than any of the no-talent ass clowns on the GOP side. (Huntsman and Herman Cain have some game, but there’s no way the loony-toons party will nominate them).

    So the question becomes, will the economic situation next year be bad enough to reach the level of Watergate or the Vietnam War as a structural force on the election? That’s a pretty high bar.

    • DivGuy says:

      DivGuy’s theory of joe’s theory of presidential politics:

      It’s really easy to look like a good politician when you run in favorable circumstances.

      John McCain has had an amazing political career, maintaining his popularity while behaving like a lunatic for decades. The man’s great at what he does. In a true 50/50 election, he’d be pretty much neck and neck with Obama. George W Bush ran a great campaign in 2000, but a complete shite campaign in 2004 – he should have won by way more than that with the economy he had. John Kerry is forever going to be underrated as a politician because he ran in bad circumstances.

      • Malaclypse says:

        George W Bush ran a great campaign in 2000, but a complete shite campaign in 2004 – he should have won by way more than that with the economy he had. John Kerry is forever going to be underrated as a politician because he ran in bad circumstances.

        Wait, did 2004 favor Bush, or Kerry? Because I think you have claimed both, unless I am tired and mis-reading.

      • Are there such a thing as favorable circumstances when you’re a black guy named Barack Hussein Obama?

        I don’t think McCain was a bad politician at all – he just ran into an opponent who was way out of his league.

        George W. Bush’s reelection campaign was a truly unique situation, in that he was the worst president the country has ever had (or one of the three worst). He ran a good campaign in 2004 – he just had an anchor around his neck.

        John Kerry is forever going to be underrated as a politician because he ran in bad circumstances.

        Look, I love John Kerry and think he would have made a great president, but he is just an awful campaigner. He’s a bad speaker, he puts his foot in his mouth, and he isn’t much of a strategist.

        • DivGuy says:

          Look, I love John Kerry and think he would have made a great president, but he is just an awful campaigner. He’s a bad speaker, he puts his foot in his mouth, and he isn’t much of a strategist.

          And yet he won a tight primary and outperformed all the major presidential election predicting models. I think we don’t actually know that much about what makes a successful politician, and too often we assume that the Politico model is the only way to win elections.

          On “Barack Hussein Obama” – to me, that’s a part of who he is as a politician. The circumstances that I was trying to isolate are the ones that affect all candidates basically equally. The fact that John McCain is a white dude and a war hero is part of who he is as a politician. Narrative and perception are a big part of it. i don’t see very much evidence to claim that McCain is any worse than Obama at winning votes, compared to average politicians in average circumstances.

          • And yet he won a tight primary

            By default, after Dean imploded, with the Democratic establishment behind him.

            I think I see the problem here – your knowledge about John Kerry’s political skills only goes back to the 2004 elections. I’ve been watching him run for office since he ran to be Michael Dukakis’ Lt. Governor.

            I know whereof I speak. It’s frustrating to be a John Kerry fan.

            On “Barack Hussein Obama” – to me, that’s a part of who he is as a politician.

            Sure, he does a good job playing the hand he was dealt.

            The fact that John McCain is a white dude and a war hero is part of who he is as a politician.

            And if you wanted to become president and could pick one of these sets of circumstances, do you think you’d have any trouble picking which one you’d prefer?

            i don’t see very much evidence to claim that McCain is any worse than Obama at winning votes

            What has John McCain ever done that comes close to Obama beating Hillary Clinton?

            • DivGuy says:

              And if you wanted to become president and could pick one of these sets of circumstances, do you think you’d have any trouble picking which one you’d prefer?

              I think I was very clear on that. I do not mean “circumstances” to refer to particular characteristics of particular politicians.

              I mean circumstances to refer only to the structural issues that mostly decide elections – the economy and wars.

              • And I think I was pretty clear that that wasn’t what I was responding to.

                You’re just blowing off these biographical and image variables as unimportant. You actually set up a parallel between Obama’s and McCain’s.

                And that’s just silly. Obama’s biographical and personal characteristics put him in a big hole he had to dig out of, while McCain’s gave him a leg up.

                • DivGuy says:

                  We’re really talking past each other.

                  Of course McCain’s biography and whatever gave him a leg up. However, the imploding economy gave Obama a much, much larger leg up. I think that pretty much any competent Democrat would have won the 2008 election, regardless of whether they trumped McCain in political skill or not.

                • But remember, the implosion didn’t happen until September, and Barack HUSSEIN Obama (remember that? Good times!) was beating McCain all the way through the campaign.

                  Yes, certainly, just about any Democrat would have beaten just about any Republican given the circumstances of September-November 2008, but the same cannot necessarily be said prior to the meltdown. As I recall, Obama kept winning the theoretical matchups vs. McCain during the primaries, while Hillary was just about even.

            • DivGuy says:

              I’ve been watching him run for office since he ran to be Michael Dukakis’ Lt. Governor.

              For what it’s worth, I was there – even volunteered – in Massachusetts when he curb-stomped the super-popular sitting Republican governor in 1996.

          • PS – “the Politico model?”

            Fifty years after John F. Kennedy beat Eisenhower’s Vice President, we’re talking about the notion of presidential politics as a beauty contest as if it’s a novel view of things?

            • DivGuy says:

              I was saying “the Politico model” as a way of disparaging it.

              I do think that political skill and appeal are real things. I am skeptical that we understand that particularly well.

              The same Richard Nixon that was so terribly ineffectual in 1960, such that he’s used as the paradigm of the non-beautiful candidate, went on to win two presidential elections, one of them against a sitting vice president in his own right, one of them by one of the largest margins ever. Was Nixon good or bad at the “beauty contest”? Because Lord knows he was no beauty.

              Being popular is a weird thing. People are complicated. I don’t think we should presume we can predict these things.

              • The same Richard Nixon that was so terribly ineffectual in 1960, such that he’s used as the paradigm of the non-beautiful candidate,

                No, Walter Mondale is the paradigm of the non-beautiful candidate.

                Nixon (and now, McCain) is the paradigm of the perfectly-fine candidate who went up against a beauty queen.

                Before you disparage the concept of a beauty contest, you need to understand it. It isn’t all beauty queens and goats. In between you have middling candidates. Sometimes, like in 1988, you have two of them running against each other.

                • DivGuy says:

                  Let’s take 1988, then. George H.W. Bush won by eight percentage points.

                  That’s a better winning margin than any of Clinton, Bush II, or Obama ever received.

                  It seems to me there are two possible explanations that don’t require special pleading:

                  1) That structural factors are far more important in deciding outcomes than the skill of the politicians

                  2) That the “beauty contest” model has failed to predict the popularity of at least one of these candidates

                • DivGuy says:

                  My bad – Clinton won in ’96 with a lead .7 points greater than Bush’s. I think the point stands, that Bush I’s 1988 margin victory doesn’t fit well with your theory of politics.

                • I think your analysis ignores the polarization that took place during the 1990s. The electorate is much more polarized by 2000 than it was in 1988. There used to be a much larger set of swing voters than there is this century. I don’t think we’re going to see landslides like 64, 72, or 84 for a long, long time. Remember “50/50 nation?” Comparisons between the two eras are a bit like looking at homerun totals in the 60s and 90s. A candidate with Obama’s structural advantages in the 1970s would have enjoyed a margin comparable to LBJ’s.

                  Certainly, the structural advantages Bush enjoyed of Dukakis were no greater than those Obama enjoyed on election day 2008 – and yet, Bush was losing to Dukakis through much of the election, by double-digits early on.

      • actor212 says:

        a complete shite campaign in 2004 – he should have won by way more than that with the economy he had.

        If you believe in unemployment as a factor in elections, specifically re-elections, then Bush had a mixed economy. After the rather mild recession he inherited in 2001, he didn’t create a single net job until well into 2005.

        That’s despite a rather moderate GDP growth heading into the 2004 election (altho even that took a while) and a booming housing market (which I think was the real factor that saw Bush get re-elected…people *felt* wealthy).

  16. Reality Check says:

    The economy will be the rope around BO’s neck.

  17. Reality Check says:

    The economy looks like its setting up nicely for a real hammering. Tomorrow’s jobs report will be painful.

  18. Oscar Leroy says:

    Who cares if Obama loses? He wants to massively expand coal and oil production, assassinate American citizens with no trial or oversight of any kind, and fight wars without Congressional approval. He does not believe in gay marriage, ending the war on drugs, or using government to reduce unemployment. He might as well be a Republican.

    • I remember seeing the same thing said about the 2010 Congressional elections, about a zillion times.

      Oddly enough, the same people telling me that it didn’t matter how those elections went are now the people wailing the loudest about the Congressional Republicans.

    • richard says:

      Just nonsense. I care a lot about Obama losing to the potential Republican candidates. If you didn’t care whether he won the first time or not (since he never campaigned on promises to end the war on drugs or to promote gay marriage or on a public works project), then why are you even bothering to discuss this topic. And the idea that he wants to assasinate American citizens without oversight is, to put it politely, a lie.

      • Oscar Leroy says:

        A lie? I guess you haven’t heard of Anwar al-Awlaki.

        I cared who won in 2008. It turns out I didn’t need to. And you use one of the typical obama supporter dodges: “it’s okay that Obama is doing terrible things, because he never said he wouldn’t do terrible things.” Somehow, I don’t find that convincing.

        “I remember seeing the same thing said about the 2010 Congressional elections, about a zillion times.”

        Yeah, but at least Obama is fighting the Republicans hard on their bad ideas, like tax cuts for the rich, extending the PATRIOT act, and cutting government spending.

    • CapnMidnight says:

      Ask Ralph Nader how that worked.

      • Ooh, that Al Gore was the debbil himself, remember? He owned Occidental Petroleum stock, which made him Just Like Bush, and he was all corporatey and stuff.

        • L2P says:

          I’d have more sympathy for the “Who coulda node Bush was so verrrry verrrry much worse than Gore at the time” excuses from Nader voters . . . except for the millions of people who voted for Gore because they knew that Bush was going to be very, very, very much worse than Gore as a president.

          There’s a dark corner of my soul that thinks we got what we deserved for letting people be foolish enough to think that if the lesser of two evils is still evil, then as a citizen of a democracy I can vote for Santa Claus with a clear conscience.

          • Oscar Leroy says:

            Would you people learn to spell? You look like fools.

            I suppose it’s an incontrovertible fact that Al Gore would never have done the things that Bush did. Just because Gore defended NAFTA as hard as anyone, helped destroy the financial safeguards that prevented depressions like the one we’re in, and worked with a president who made regime change in Iraq the official goal of the United States doesn’t mean we can’t look into our crystal ball and say, with total certainty, that Gore would never, ever, have done what Bush did.

            If you want to live in a fantasy world of “what if” and “could have”, go right ahead. Meanwhile Obama is doing just what Republicans have done, or even going beyond what they wanted, like in his assertion of the right to assassinate people like Anwal al Alaki.

            • Halloween Jack says:

              Meanwhile Obama is doing just what Republicans have done

              Right, which is why every third word out of every Republican’s mouth is “Obamacare”. Politics is the art of the possible, but there’s no one with a chance of getting elected who’s pure enough for you.

              • Depth perception declines with distance.

                Oscar sees two figures in the distance, notes that they’re in the distance, and concludes that they’re standing next to each other.

                You see this silliness a lot from libertarians, too.

                PS – LOLing at the guy who thinks “Who coulda node” is a spelling error.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      Look, I’m nowhere near the Obama fanboy that joe from lowell is. He has disappointed me as president a number of times, and that has absolutely affected my enthusiasm for him as a candidate in ’12.

      But that doesn’t mean I won’t vote for him. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want him to beat the Republicans.

      Honestly, we had the whole experiment based around the idea that things have to get worse before they can get better. That was how Nader saw things in 2000, and he was wrong. Things got worse, and they can get worse still.

  19. stevo67 says:

    It has ALWAYS been the economy, stupid… and Obama has never taken this point seriously in his futile attempts to be “post-partisan”.

    He was warned repeatedly by Krugman, Stiglitz, et al, that the stimulus in 2009 was woefully inadequate to stave off real economic pain for Main Street. He ignored that advice, and repeatedly chose policies which favored Wall Street over the middle class. Then Obama becomes a born-again deficit fetishist and talks about “entitlement reform” as if he were Ronald Reagan. Add the fact that he seems to believe that Repubs won’t tank the economy for political gain, and the picture of Obama that emerges is even less of an empty suit than George W. Bush. History will judge him as the 21st century equivalent of Herbert Hoover.

    What Obama has always failed to understand is that the progressive economic approach (deficit spending on jobs and infrastructure improvements, strong bank regulation, enforcing corporate tax codes) was not only the right economic choice, but would have been the right political move as well.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      “Then Obama becomes a born-again deficit fetishist and talks about “entitlement reform” as if he were Ronald Reagan. ”

      But thank goodness Obama is president, and not Reagan! Because…because…because Obama has a (D) after his name rather than an (R), so he is clearly better.

  20. DocAmazing says:

    What The Democrats Need to Do, Could Do, and Probably Won’t:

    -Huge voter registration push in poor neighborhoods and minority neighborhoods. Get the shoe leather in there, get people registered, get people aware that voting is even a option.
    -Make it a point to point out exactly where the Republicans will make people’s lives worse, often and loudly and often and loudly, locally, using respected local/community leaders–not Big Dog robo-calls.
    –Get out the fucking vote in poor neighborhoods. The Greens are more active in mobilizing poor neighborhoods than the Dems are, with a fraction of the budget; that is unforgivable.

    When the numbers are on your side, use the goddamned numbers. Ah, shit, who am I kidding? This election will come and go with the Dems talking to everybody but the poor–again.

    • wengler says:

      The way they ran the 2010 election you’d think 2008 had never happened. It was the “do no punish us too bad for attempting to reform healthcare” election.

      If that election taught us anything, it is that old people are single issue voters and that issue is their Medicare. Republicans have always been much better at discerning what people vote for and what is popular which is one of the only reasons they’ve remained a viable party. Their agenda is horrible for 99.5 percent of the country, but they get around this by knowing exactly how to trick, wedge and rile people up to hate Democrats.

      But look at the Republicans now. They screwed up. The Ryan Plan was created by an idealogue instead of a political expert. They thought that guaranteeing everyone born before 1957 enrollment in the old system would keep the old folks in line. It didn’t. All they heard was “the end of Medicare as we know it”.

      This is why the Republicans are so dangerous right now. They have defaulted on raising the debt ceiling. I don’t think it’s likely that they will vote for it until they get Obama to cut Medicare with them. They desperately need the old people. No amount of Village whoring of their intrepid Harold Ford-like seriousness is helping. The old folks have gone Galt.

    • Malaclypse says:

      -Huge voter registration push in poor neighborhoods and minority neighborhoods.

      ACORN! New Black Panthers! Thugs!

      -Make it a point to point out exactly where the Republicans will make people’s lives worse,

      Incivility! Demagoguery! Unseriousness!

      –Get out the fucking vote in poor neighborhoods.

      ACORN! New Black Panthers! Thugs!

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