WASHINGTON - There was a huge, gaping hole in former President Bill Clinton's defensive speech in behalf of Barack Obama's bid for a second term.
He conveniently and dishonestly ignored or papered over all of painful failures of Obama's mediocre presidency throughout the past four troubled years. To use a speaking device Clinton repeatedly applied in his attack on former Gov. Mitt Romney's candidacy, the number of worsening policy problems that Obama was responsible for totaled "zero."
The former president, whose scandal-torn tenure was notable for telling Americans "I feel your pain," had little or nothing to say about the severe economic pain that tens of millions of Americans are suffering under Obama's failed presidency.
The theme of the Democratic national convention, as was evident from the sea of signs before the podium, was protecting the middle class, the bedrock of Obama's party.
But the economic, fiscal and social statistics that have been relentlessly detailed in government reports over the course of Obama's term reveal a jobless, income starved economy that has hit the middle class the hardest of all. No sector of our population has been punished more by Obama's anti-economic growth, anti-job creation policies.
There was no mention of 8.3 percent unemployment, a rate of 8- plus joblessness across the land that shows no signs of improvement. And that's the average of all the states. Unfortunately, the people this is hurting do not live in the statistically-massaged column of averages, but in the real, slow growth economy Obama has given us.
"Adding adults on the sidelines, who say they'd reenter the labor market if conditions improved, and part-time workers, who would prefer full-time positions, the unemployment rate becomes 15 percent," says University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.
What else did Clinton leave out of his carnival-barker defense of Obama's presidency? Sharply lower median incomes, higher poverty rates in the 15 percent range, a snail's pace, 1.7 percent economic growth rate that's on a downward slope, gas prices skirting $4 a gallon, and a big spike in claims for food stamps to combat growing hunger and homelessness in the United States.
Clinton's slickly-worded speech will be a feast for the fact- checkers, but it was clear that he was cherry-picking numbers and specious facts to make Obama's presidency look better than it is. Earlier this week, the Gallup Poll said only 43 percent of Americans approved of the job Obama was doing, while 48 percent disapproved.
Clinton threw out a lot of exaggerated job numbers that bear little resemblance to the job-challenged economy that workers are facing today. In the second quarter, the real economy added only 127,000 jobs per month, as income-flattened consumers cut back on their spending to make ends meet.
Like Obama, Clinton was tossing out job numbers in the millions, when official job statistics tell a far different story. There are many ways to rejigger the job numbers and both men are very skillful in using the statistical sleight of hand from their bag of tricks. For example:
"Over the last 3 and a half years, we have focused on righting the ship, making sure that we didn't slip into a depression...creating 4.5 million new jobs," Obama has said on the campaign trail.
But Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler says Obama's claim, "cited many times at the convention... is misleading, because it refers to private sector jobs, not all jobs, and because it is based on a date (February 2010) that put the president's jobs record in the best possible light."
Kessley explains that the real, honest of goodness job growth number "is still negative if you start counting from the beginning of Obama's presidency."
That number "is plus or minus a few hundred thousand jobs, depending on whether you date his presidency from January or February," he writes. Now, here's the killer:
"At this point, Obama is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president since World War II," he says. And this is from a newspaper that supported Obama in 2008 and will likely endorse him again this year.
But this is a convention that is a mass of contradictions and hypocrisy whose slogan this week should be "Do as we say but not as we do."
Obama has made a lot of political hay by bashing big corporations and the millionaires and billionaires who he says do not pay their fair share of taxes (when in fact the top 25 percent pay almost all of the income taxes).
But now we learn from stories leaking out of the smoke filled back rooms at this convention that top White House and Cabinet officials and senior campaign advisers, (and Clinton, too), have been secretly meeting with millionaires and billionaires to refill their depleted campaign war-chest.
What the White House desperately needs now are huge contributions in the seven figures that will go into the so-called super PACs supporting the president.These are the same kind of fundraising groups supporting Mitt Romney that Obama and his advisers have attacked relentlessly throughout this year.
Under campaign finance laws, these super-PACs are supposed to be operated separately from the candidates' campaign apparatus. But it was announced Wednesday that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama's White House chief of staff, was stepping down as the president's honorary campaign chairman to help run the pro-Obama super PAC called Priorities USA Action.
Presumably ignoring the separation that is required by law, it was reported that Emanuel and campaign manager Jim Messina briefed potential donors about the fundraising gap with the Republicans. Among administration officials joining these briefings was Jack Lew, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and now White House chief of staff.
Apparently Obama has no problem taking the money of millionaires and billionaires to further his political ambition -- money made from the corporate power structures that have been among his favorite political whipping boys over the past four years.