Here's a technique they don't teach in campaign school: Patronize the voters. President Obama, speaking at a fundraiser in Boston, said, "People out there are still hurting very badly, and they are still scared. And so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be."
He might as well have reminded his listeners that you can expect little else of people who "cling" to their Bibles and guns and hostility to those who are different. If the people of the United States are losing confidence in President Obama, he wants it clearly understood that he is losing confidence in them as well. If they are considering voting for candidates Obama disapproves, it's because fear has paralyzed their capacity for reasoned judgment.
That must be it. It couldn't be that voters gave Mr. Obama a chance and are now holding him accountable for his failures.
The recession that began in December 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports, ended in June 2009. It was the longest recession since the end of World War II. The recovery has accordingly been underway for 16 months. But unlike previous recoveries from steep downturns, this one has been barely distinguishable from the recession itself. As Michael Boskin noted, "Compared to the 6.2 percent first-year Ford recovery and 7.7 percent Reagan recovery, the Obama recovery at 3 percent is less than half speed. The unemployment rate would now be 8 percent or lower at those higher growth rates."
As the economy has failed to rebound robustly, President Obama has persisted in speaking like a campaigner instead of an executive. Though he and his party have been in complete charge for two years, his rhetoric has scarcely changed. During the campaign, he told voters that he understood what had gone wrong and could fix it. "Our falling GDP is a direct result of eight years of the trickle-down, Wall Street-first, Main Street-last policies that have driven our economy into a ditch," he explained in June 2008. The recession was "the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long."
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