Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I recall that things seemed pretty awful back in 1980, so it wasn't surprising that Jimmy Carter struggled in his reelection bid and then lost badly to Ronald Reagan. However, I just went here and searched the monthly unemployment numbers for that year, and I see that they never went above 7.8%.

The unemployment peak in the year Poppy Bush lost, 1992, was 7.7%.

By contrast, President Obama hasn't an unemployment number lower than 8.1% at any point in his presidency.

I can give you all sorts of reasons why Obama should be reelected, but it would make perfect sense if he were trailing his GOP opponent badly right now. At the very least, it would make perfect sense if Obama's approval and reelect numbers were terrible. (Carter and Poppy Bush lost in three-candidate races; at this point in the years they lost, the guys who eventually beat them weren't blowing them away, but both Carter and Bush were below 40% in three-way match-ups.)

All the headlines for Obama right now look bad. "Obama's Ratings Sink on Economic Doubts." "Obama's White Base Shows Cracks Compared with 2008." "Now Union Members Are Deserting Obama." "A Chilly Reception from Independents on Obama's Plans for the Economy." So why is Obama running even with Mitt Romney, or slightly ahead?

Well, some of those doomy headlines are misleading. The "chilly reception from independents"? The reception for Mitt Romney isn't much better:

Swing-voting independents see Barack Obama's plans for the economy negatively rather than positively by 54-38 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll....

It's no party for Mitt Romney either. Independents also rate his economic plans more unfavorably than favorably, by 47-35 percent....

Romney lags among moderates, and does less well among conservatives than Obama does among liberals.

And as I told you last night, swing voters surveyed by James Carville and Stan Greenberg's firm have heard about Bain Capital and been exposed to Romney's Richie Rich talk, and they don't like him:

[Romney will enact] policies that keep himself and his class where they are. There’s a certain -- I think there's a certain level when you get so high up the business where you’re making so much money that you don't need where you just lose some of your humanity and you just don’t care. (Non-college-educated woman, Columbus, OH)....

The press likes to choose sides in campaign years, and this year the press seems to be choosing Romney. Every campaign story these days seems to be about how the Obama campaign is failing and Romney is surging. But Romney isn't surging. He's running even with Obama or slightly behind Obama. A gazillion dollars in super PAC money could change that -- but why isn't Obama on the ropes already?

Is it because voters still blame Bush for running the economy aground? Is it because they know Obama has tried to work with Republicans and Republicans haven't returned the favor (to put it mildly)? Is it because the GOP's party-wide "death before tax cuts for the rich" loyalty oath is extremely unpopular? Is it because Romney comes off as staggeringly devoid of empathy and thoroughly unlikable (and as a guy who's trying not to be likable, because his wingnut base regards consideration of others' viewpoints to be a sellout of conservative principles)?

Why isn't the press's narrative right now about Romney's failure to break through?

Shouldn't he be doing a lot better, just because he's not the status quo guy? Shouldn't we ask him whether he's failing because the brand of politics he represents repels decent people?


Greg Hao said...

Lots of great points here but I have a question: "The press" as much as we'd like to think, isn't one giant gestalt. They are ultimately people who are employed by various news organisations. And the only people who complain about them more than liberals are conservatives. Rather than the ceaseless kvetching, I'm wondering what steps can be taken to cure us of this ill.

I'm just spitballing here, but is it possible to start identifying these journalists by name such that once we do so, the problem doesn't seem so insurmountable and a project might be convened try to sway their opinion somehow? Or am I just too out to lunch?

Victor said...

6 corporations own 90% of the MSM in this country.

There are billions, BILLIONS, of party and Super PAC dollars out there to be spent on commercials and ads between now and November.

The MSM wants a horse-race, to keep the money flowing in.
They'll make it a horse-race by any means possible.

Chastising reporters sounds like a great idea, but their bosses, and bosses-bosses, don't care - as long as the narrative remains that it's a close election, and the money keeps rolling in.

Besides, the reporters have seen what's happened to two right-center political analysts (Mann and Ornstein) who were on TV and radio all of the time, but a few weeks ago, they pointed their finger at the R Party as the culprit for the mess this country is in, and ended up pariah's/lepers on the MSM - relegated to Comedy Central, a few MSNBC shows, and PBS.

Why risk a nice salary and benefits, and end up like them?

Now, and good idea might be to try to disband the media monopolies, or threaten them with that if they don't voluntarily set-up and equal time rule.

But you'd need a Congress willing to do that. And, with almost all R's happy with the status quo, and too many D's, I don't think that's likely.

And so, here we sit, BS to the north, and east, west, and south of us - and the WMD's (Weapons of Media Destruction) are out there, allowing the tearing apart of our representative democracy - only no one can call them out, or do much about them.

All we can do, is work as hard as we can for candidates, and hope for the best.
I'm at a lack of what else to do.

BH said...

In addition to what Victor prescribes, and just on the maintenance-of-personal-sanity level, I recommend ignoring as much of the media noise as possible. You'll miss little in the way of fact or worthwhile opinion. That's no answer to the societal problem, though.

Ten Bears said...

I'll bet (I was there) Carter would have done better if Ray-Gun hadn't colluded with the enemy. Sold 44 American hostages into a year's detention to "win" the election. God-damned traitor.

Ten Bears said...

Oh, and did I mention that when "terrorists" knocked off over two hundred Marines in Lebanon, Ray-Gun cut and ran - pulled all of our boys and girls out of there.

And then there's that largest tax increase ever...

Farfel said...

Good article but you give Americans too much credit for discerning nuances re understanding why they are still even.

Unknown said...

You quote Carville and Greenberg as quoting a woman in Ohio, thus.

“[Romney will enact] policies that keep himself and his class where they are. There’s a certain -- I think there's a certain level when you get so high up the business where you’re making so much money that you don't need where you just lose some of your humanity and you just don’t care.”

Near indifference to the fate of others is pretty much the norm for humans, moderated by a touch of sympathy motivating a weak strain of benevolence.

This explains not only how vast differences in wealth are possible in our societies but also the horrific exploitation of the masses through which they are so often created.

Hence the fellow who sees he is rich well beyond making the least difference to his own happiness and puts a cap on it, thinking “Every new penny I lay hands on I will spend making the world better for the ordinary and worst off,” is closely watched for other signs of insanity.

But people who have tens of millions and more who answer the question what will happen to those who get sick without insurance with “let them die” are so far up the selfishness curve as to be genuinely frightening sociopaths, real threats to society.

If they ever form or take over a mass political party the rest of us are in real danger.


Unknown said...

On the other hand, there are those with more than they could possibly need who use the excess to make the world even more of a playpen for the rich, powerful, and selfish.

KOS says today the Times says “In recent days, Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a ‘super PAC’ backing Mitt Romney, people with knowledge of the contribution said Wednesday. The move leaves the Adelsons by far the most prolific campaign donors in the country.”