Stagnant economy may doom Obama

May 26, 2011


— Asked three weeks ago if he would like to run for president, Mitch Daniels replied, “What sane person would like to?”

His decision against running, following Haley Barbour’s and Mike Huckabee’s decisions, illuminates a political asymmetry: Liberals think government, and hence politics, should be life’s epicenter; conservatives do not.

Days before Daniels decided not to sacrifice his family’s happiness for politics, he was asked about possible running mates. He said he would like to pick Condoleezza Rice, who happens to favor abortion rights. This quickened fears that he is indifferent to social issues important to the Republican nominating electorate, and that he might restore Bush administration persons and policies. A Daniels candidacy would have been difficult.

Daniels was mentioned, as Mitt Romney is, as the choice of the Republican “establishment.” It, however, died even before its bulletin board, the New York Herald Tribune, did in 1966. The establishment was interred in 1964, when Barry Goldwater was nominated.

Today, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint is the closest approximation of a Republican kingmaker, because since 1980 the candidate who has carried his state has won the nomination, and because the tea party trusts him. In 2008, he supported Romney. Two months ago, according to what The Hill newspaper calls “a source close to DeMint,” the senator would “never consider” doing so again unless Romney renounced his Massachusetts health care law as “a colossal mistake.” Subsequently, Romney decided to do the opposite.

Daniels’ and Romney’s decisions have made May an accelerating month for Tim Pawlenty, former two-term governor of the only state to vote Democratic in nine consecutive presidential elections — arguably the most conservative governor in Minnesota’s history.

To make the most of his momentum he should stop criticizing Barack Obama’s Libyan intervention as insufficiently ambitious. Sounding like a dime store Teddy Roosevelt (the real TR was bad enough), Pawlenty recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “I would tell Gadhafi he’s got X number of days to get his affairs in order and go or we’re going to go get him.”

Such chest-thumping bluster is not presidential, and is not Pawlenty’s real persona. He actually is a temperate Midwesterner, socially and fiscally conservative. He is, as were almost half the participants in the 2008 Republican nominating events, an evangelical Christian, well-positioned to inherit much of this cohort, which made Huckabee the winner of Iowa’s 2008 caucuses.

The nomination is well worth winning. Alex Castellanos, an astute Republican consultant, notes (in The Daily Caller) that in 2008, Obama “held the best hand of cards” dealt to a candidate in living memory — a discredited GOP, a too-familiar 72-year-old opponent, an economic meltdown and, especially, George W. Bush: Obama won all, but only, states where Bush’s favorable rating was below 35 percent. Still, even then, when Obama was a relatively blank slate, he won only 53 percent of the popular vote. He cannot be a novelty and the nation’s Rorschach test twice.

There are many paths to 270 Republican electoral votes. Of the 10 states that will lose electoral votes because of the 2010 census, Obama carried eight in 2008. The states John McCain carried then had 173 electoral votes and now have 180. A Republican nominee who holds those and adds Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia and Nevada has 272 electoral votes.

In Pennsylvania, which has voted Democratic in five consecutive presidential elections, a late-April Quinnipiac poll showed independents disapproving of Obama’s job performance by a 20-point margin, 57-to-37, with a majority of Pennsylvanians saying he did not deserve re-election. If he loses Pennsylvania, where Republicans gained five House seats last year, he is unlikely to win Ohio — Republicans also gained five seats there — or a second term.

June will be the 762nd month since January 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began calculating the unemployment rate. And June will be the 68th month since 1948 with the rate at 8 percent or higher — the 29th such month under Obama. So 43 percent of the most severe unemployment in the last 63 years has occurred in the last two and half years. No postwar president has sought re-election with 8 percent unemployment.

The recession ended in June 2009, yet a late-April Gallup poll showed 55 percent of Americans describing the economy as in a recession or depression. Hence 78 percent are dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

In 1960, candidate John Kennedy’s mantra was, “I think we can do better.” In 2012, a Republican can win by re-casting that as a question: “Is this the best we can do?”

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email is georgewill@washpost.com.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"His decision against running, following Haley Barbour’s and Mike Huckabee’s decisions, illuminates a political asymmetry: Liberals think government, and hence politics, should be life’s epicenter; conservatives do not."

What an idiotic comment, George. Clearly what conservatives believe is that politics and government should be the preserve of the wealthy-- the poor and working and middle class need not apply.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 9 months ago

Amen, Bozo! Seems to me that George Will has made a VERY good living talking politics.

verity 6 years, 9 months ago

I stopped reading after that line. Actually I read that line twice to make sure it said what it seemed to say because I couldn't believe Mr. Will could be that dumb.

EarthaKitt 6 years, 8 months ago

Truly amazing. Turn that table and see how different this commentary would be.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

From Reuters today:

"U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week, pointing to a painfully slow improvement in the nation's job markets.

The Labor Department on Thursday revised the prior week's claims number up from an originally reported 409,000.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast that claims last week would decline to 400,000, rather than rise.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, considered a better measure of trends since it smooths out weekly variations, eased slightly to 438,500 from a revised 440,250.

Last week marked the seventh straight week in which claims topped the 400,000 level, indicating that payroll growth is soft and may continue to be so for some time. A department official said there were no exceptional factors to account for the rise in last week's claims."

Earth to Bozo, via Bill Clinton: "It's the economy, stupid." All of Obama's Porkulus spending has done nothing but temporarily prop up selected government jobs and pay back political favors to Democrats. Real job growth can only be created by the private sector, not by government.

Obama is indeed vulnerable, and he knows it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

Of course he's vulnerable. I didn't say he wasn't. But the US political structure isn't structured to make the economy better. It's structured to concentrate wealth at the very top.

So unemployment is very unlikely to appreciably decline between now and Nov 2012. If Obama and the Democrats are the winners in that election, the current status quo, miserable as it is, has a chance of getting no worse, but probably no better, either.

If Republicans win, the unemployment rate will almost certainly go up. The wealthy and the corporations they own don't stand to gain anything by lowering the unemployment rate, so it just won't happen, no matter what else happens in the next 17 months.

jonas_opines 6 years, 9 months ago

Meh, all depends on who he runs against, and so far it's just the usual run of unelectable imbeciles. This could easily just mirror 2004, when the dems snatched defeat from the arms of easy victory by backing a zombie who couldn't talk in more than one tone.

Hell, maybe the unelectability of their current candidates is part of their strategy. Their base is so much more fired up when their side can be portrayed as the oppressed champions of small business, fighting against the tyranny of government to protect the individual rights of the people, rather than when they're in charge and proven by their actions to be none of those things, no more than their counterparts on the other side of the aisle.

jonas_opines 6 years, 9 months ago

Is that the extent of your cleverness this morning, Barry? You must be sleepy

tolawdjk 6 years, 9 months ago

Yep, Obama is vulnerable.

The GOP can't manage to put anyone out there to exploit it.

Newt shot himself in the face. Romney is responsible for Obamacarelite plus all the reasons he failed last time. Huntsman worked for Mr. Vulnerable and has an uphill climb against the religious right. Pawlenty, and this may not be a deteriment to him, is an unknown.

And those are the ones with the best chance.

Cain, Paul, Palin, Bachman are all poison pills and will divide more than unite anything.

The rest, for whatever reasons, aren't running. In a field this weak, that says something.

gkerr 6 years, 9 months ago

Ordinarily President's are rejected when they run for a second term during a poor economy with high unemployment, purchasing power of dollar falling, and debt burden rising.

Obama is not an ordinary president because he is supported overwhelmingly by a main stream media that is "all in" for his reelection. There is no greater evidence for the corruption of the cultural elites including News and Educators in America than the willful betrayal of professional Journalistic standards and the incessant propaganda of Educators paid from the public purse in the reelection campaign of the most liberal political candidates.

I don't know that an Obama opponent will be able to overcome the bias.

One bit of good news, suggesting possible understanding by the average American about the pervasive bias in the broadcast media, is the continued abysmal polling of mainstream media in the opinion of the American people. A recent study by Boston's Suffolk University details a stunning rejection of network news and nightly news anchors. While only 28% trust Fox News, far fewer trust CNN 18%, MSNBC 7%, NBC 10%, while ABC and CBS garner a shocking 6%.

The dirty secret though that will tend to ensure the reelection of President Obama is that the other sources of information about candidates, including teachers, popular magazines, entertainment tv venues, all have similar biases toward the more liberal candidate in the political contest. Not until the misery index is sky high or a sense of vulnerability to foreign dangers is very high will the American people overcome the inherent bias in the cultural establishment in America.

One other factor that is sure to support President Obama's reelection is the pervasive cheating by Democrat operatives at the voting precincts in America. Perhaps again the soldiers risking their lives overseas will be disenfranchised by Democrat shenanigans of the kind that have become ever more common as the Media watchdogs close their eyes to cheating in order to support their favored candidates. Gkerr

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

Oh yes, it is the "liberal media" and cheating. This is why there are more Republican governors and the Republicans have an edge in the House. This also helps explain the election of President Bush -- it was the liberal media's fault. Oh, and cheating by the Democrats -- something about Watergate, wasn't it?

Too funny.

Face it, the American people just like President Obama more than they like the last Republican who ran against him and likely more than the pick of the Republicans this time around. Even conservatives are admitting that the group running thus far hasn't garnered much excitement. Pawlenty? His announcement of running for president has been about as exciting as watching John Kerry sleep. Gingrich was dead on arrival, and we have already turned away from Romney once and the second time won't be the charm. Paul? Not in this lifetime. He has as much chance of winning as did Kucinich.

No, it isn't any of the boogie men you want to conjure up. It is the basic reality that most voting Americans feel Obama is effective, more or less for a politician, and they appreciate what he has done to make sure the country didn't completely collapse into the abyss it was headed when he took over.

And he go bin Laden!

I will be greatly surprised if Obama doesn't win reelection.

gkerr 6 years, 9 months ago

Beatrice, Such a beautiful name you have. Republicans are elected locally because they are better known and when a choice is present based in knowledge, the more conservative candidate, if qualified usually prevails as America indeed is a right of center country. However when the contest is on the national level, we are less familiar and depend more on cultural elites for our info. Saturday night live for instance is far more likely to use parody and ridicule on participants of National campaigns than in local campaigns-likewise National news outlets, national news magazines, spend time and rhetoric spinning the news about national rather than local office contests.

Cheating is not exclusive to Democrat operatives and poll workers but is far more common among them. Authentic picture ID should be mandatory to validate identity at the polls-it's only common sense and yet is strongly opposed by Democrats. Disenfranchised soldiers tilt strongly toward the more conservative candidates and that is why their vote is suppressed, sometimes egregiously by Democrats.

For the above reasons of Media and gate keeper bias, and cheating Obama will be hard to beat despite a horrid economy and far leftward tilt in his policy and animus. Gkerr

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

You really need to be able support a comment about cheating being far more common among Democrats. Your voting argument is hardly support. Voting is a right, just as much as free speech. Do you really believe someone should show their ID to speak freely? It is a limitation on a right, and that is why Democrats are against it. Forcing the issue is what can be considered "cheating" because it is limiting what it means for a citizen to vote. I mean, if you have your wallet stolen the morning of the election, you really believe you personally shouldn't be allowed to vote? I think you should, and that has nothing to do with cheating.

In Arizona, Republicans attempted to run several bogus "Green Party" candidates to pull votes away from Democrats. It was blatant cheating and they got caught. That is just one example that goes against your partisan claim.

Obama will likely win reelection because people like him, because the economy isn't nearly as bad as it could have been, and despite his not tilting his policies far enough leftward and too often siding with conservative policies.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

gkerr: "Obama is not an ordinary president because he is supported overwhelmingly by a main stream media that is "all in" for his reelection. There is no greater evidence for the corruption of the cultural elites including News and Educators in America than the willful betrayal of professional Journalistic standards and the incessant propaganda of Educators paid from the public purse in the reelection campaign of the most liberal political candidates." === An interesting perspective. You seem to suggest those of a 'conservative' bent are clueless and helpless in the face of media. I say read and watch them all, far left to far right and make up your own mind how to vote. Since all media is entertainment, I doubt any outlets, regardless of their political leanings are interested in anything besides profit. We'll be OK, bubba. Obama will be hard to beat, but the R's can do it if they try, and don't nominate an airhead basketcase for the top of the ticket. At this point I have my doubts, but it's early.

gkerr 6 years, 9 months ago

Paul, No, conservatives are not clueless or helpless. We make up some 33 to 40% of the electorate, we are not a majority. Independents will decide the next election. Independent moderates to be more specific. Moderates by their personal make up are more vulnerable to spin and bias by authority figures and celebrity in the media and entertainment fields. They are more susceptible to ridicule or fear of ridicule than conservatives. Don't really know why this is true it just is true. Gkerr

Steve Jacob 6 years, 9 months ago

A good point I read was Obama will spend two years courting independent voters, while a Republican will have scars, after having spent the winter/spring telling everyone how much of a conservative he/she is.

pizzapete 6 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately, the other party lacks both viable candidates or any new ideas to unseat him.

gkerr 6 years, 9 months ago

DIST, Yes you did say that, but I disagree. I don't know about all the republican candidates, but I do know that Obama lacks the essential elements of a good President. He divides. He pits wealthy against the less wealthy unless it is one of his thousands of rich buddy Capitalists that loot and pillage the treasury. Fanny and Freddie insiders, Wall street Bankers and large banks like City Bank and BOA. Mortgage houses like City Wide who owned Chris Dodd and are huge Dem insiders. The socialist bankers like the recently disgraced IMF chief Strauss-Kahn are all fellow travelers with Barack Obama. Far more of the wealthy and by far most of the 100 millionaires and billionaires are Democrats and Liberals. He has failed with the stimulus, failed in bringing up emloyment, failed in cutting spending, failed in solidifying Allies (the British Press has torn him apart and the Brit politicians have used him for their own political purposes.). Who can forget George Soros who has been to the White house 8 times that we know of and who has over 200 front organizations contributing to the hallowed 4 th Estate including NPR, CBS, ABC,And most all of the mainstream media. Soros is a billionaire who made his fortune destroying the Crown Sterling and who currency trades and may well be angling to destroy the dollar. No Obama has shown himself to be a corrupt scheming socialist.
Pawlenty, Romney, and any one of several others excluding sponge bob square pants (Gingrich) are all better than the devil we know.

Remember Ronaldus Maximus was a silly old B rate actor loathed by the press because he had become more conservative over his political career as governor of California. He was proclaimed stupid by MSM and the Rockefeller- Ford wing of the Republican party before his two landslide elections to the highest office.

Don't rule out the Republican candidates just yet. Do rule out the failed Barrack Obama.

deskboy04 6 years, 9 months ago

The NEA supported Obama and he gave us Arne Duncan.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

There was a time in the distant past when I had the impression that George Will was a brilliant writer with something relevant to say. I thought he was an important part of the national discourse.

This is what happens when a flawed political philosophy nears the end of it's run. There is no wind left in the sails.

I am looking for an honest candidate who is capable of making reasonable cuts, innovative and creative strategies and the ability to actually END the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

I am also looking for the candidate with enough gravitas to know that we can not afford to police the world nor pay to fix it's problems.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

When you find that candidate, please let me know who they are.

And, I'd add that, for me, they have to have a reasonable chance of getting elected.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Mr Will has no clue how to create 11 million new jobs.

After all it is his boys who twice wrecked the USA economy! Both times by financial institutions going down the tubes. Hmmmmmm we have a pattern.

It's YOUR money! Cases in point to be considered and read completely:

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. Bush and Henry Paulson blew the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

Addition economic mayhem was created by:

Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes for the sake of the economy and reducing the cost of living and reducing the cost of doing business WE taxpayers should own all power sources. Why?

Because it is you and me that guarantee construction costs and insurance. Construction costs are famous for their large cost over runs.

Bottom line: It is best for taxpayers and ratepayers to demand termination of all existing coal and nuke plants as both produce radioactive waste and cost billions to replace.

A combination of new energy sources would produce cleaner and more efficient energy. Additionally this combination would not only provide way more jobs throughout the states but also safer employment.

Rebuilding economies:

The Plan: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/renewing-americas-economy.html

Wind http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/how-wind-energy-works.html

Solar http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/how-solar-energy-works.html

Bio Mass http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/offmen-how-biomass-energy-works.html

Geo Thermal http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/offmen-how-geothermal-energy-works.html

Hydro Power http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/how-hydroelectric-energy-works.html

Flap Doodle 6 years, 8 months ago

The linkbot has woken. Fear his mad copy/paste skillz!

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Independents do indeed seem to be the factor that tilts elections one way or another these days.

Interesting that when they tilt it towards Republicans, as they did in the midterms, conservatives gladly embrace them for making the right decisions, and when they tilt the other way, they revile them.

It's also notable that gkerr's posts on these political topics include a vast number of claims, with absolutely no sources or evidence in support of them.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago


So it's not his responsibility to support his claims, it's mine to debunk them?

I also don't have the time/inclination to spend all day researching things.

This is the new absurdity in modern political discourse - the idea that one can simply assert things without any evidence, and that it's up to somebody else to "disprove" them.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago


So I guess we should all just post whatever nonsense we like?

If he wants more credibility, then he can post some evidence of what he claims.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Not sure what there is to debunk.

It's one person's opinion about something that "could" happen, in his own words.

He's entitled to his opinion, but that doesn't make it a fact.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Because people seem to have forgotten the distinction between opinion and fact, among others.

And often present their opinions as if they're factual, when they're not.

And, I was talking about gkerr, not DB.

Who hasn't responded with any sort of sources or evidence. but presents opinions as facts often.

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