Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The most salient characteristic of the Obama administration's abject failure to put the American economy back to work has been their deafening silence on the issue in this campaign.

Barack Obama doesn't talk about the economy's painful weaknesses. Democrats in Congress are all but silent on the issue as if it doesn't exist. His campaign ads ignore it altogether as if everything's fine, asking voters to turn their attention to lesser issues. Issues that do not make the top 10 list of major concerns in voter surveys.

Across the Potomac River in Virginia, almost all of the Obama attack ads against Republican rival Mitt Romney are about abortion and contraception, hoping they will be able to woo enough women to vote for Obama on that single issue that will put this swing state into his electoral column.

In an election year when the president's handling of the economy is the No. 1 complaint, high unemployment and the lack of good paying jobs is No. 2, and unfathomable budget deficits and a nearly $16 trillion debt are No. 3 and 4, Obama believes he can win a second term on abortion, Romney's tax returns and bashing his successful career as a venture capital investor.

Apparently he thinks the American people are fools who will fall for that old sideshow carnival shell game where the con man distracts you long enough so that you do not see which walnut shell contains the nut.

In The Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson tells the tale of two tailors who weave a suit of clothes that is supposedly invisible to anyone who is either stupid or incompetent. When the emperor rides by, no one in the crowd dares to say anything, until a child cries out, "He isn't wearing anything at all."

Obama thinks that not enough voters will care that the economy is now in a sharp decline in the fourth year of his presidency if can keep them distracted by other issues. He is also counting on the base of his party and its leadership not to utter a word of complaint that 23 million Americans can't find good paying, full-time jobs. So far they've done a good job a gagging their lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

And they're counting on the national news media and the nightly news to focus their fire power on the Romney-Ryan ticket, while burying the economic news stories -- as the networks have been doing for the past four years.

They did it again Wednesday by ignoring the Commerce Department's negative report that the economy was barely growing at 1.7 percent and, economists say, will remain below 2 percent for the rest of this year.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.