Rich Galen

During that time, President Obama spent an extraordinary amount of political capital and Congressional energy on getting the health care legislation passed when, in retrospect, he should have been looking for ways to encourage economic growth.

The rule of thumb for political geniuses like me is: Whatever Americans believe is going on in the economy in August of the election year is what voters will take to the polls with them in November when they vote for President.

By November of 1992 the economy was, in fact, beginning to recover but Gov. Bill Clinton (aided and abetted by my back-door neighbor James Carville) continued to hammer on how bad things were and the George H.W. Bush campaign couldn't convince voters things were looking up.

The result was Bill Clinton taking the oath of office at noon on January 20, 1993.

Every month that slips by with bad economic news like that litany above, is another month that Americans will worry about their family's economic future. Every month that has unemployment - no matter how it's counted - at or near nine percent is another month less to get that measure at or below seven percent by election day 2012.

Here's the quicksand danger for the GOP over the next 17 months: They cannot appear to be cheering bad employment numbers; bad housing numbers; bad manufacturing numbers; bad … everything numbers.

Republicans can't put themselves in the position where voters believe they are applauding continued economic hardship so they can win control of the White House or the Senate or more seats in the House.

Voters have a right to believe - in spite of all the evidence to the contrary - that their elected officials are Americans first and partisans second.

Take care not to be seen rooting for failure.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links upon links upon links. Also another in the excellent (and never-ending) series of license plate Mullfotos and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at