President Barack Obama was hailed as the best communicator since President Ronald Reagan when he came into office in 2009, but at this current pace, his White House, and by extension the Democrats, appear more like King George VI in “The King’s Speech.”
The stuttering and stammering when it comes to discussing this economy is making the president and his party look like some of the most confused individuals you have ever seen. When the May job numbers came out, they call it a bump in the road. If the economic news is not moving as fast as analysts and commentators like, they revert to blaming President George W. Bush’s porous stewardship of the economy in his final term. And when it is time to take ownership and accept the reality that it now boils down to them, they give that deer-in-headlights look.
Look, Mr. President, you wanted the job. Well, this comes with the job. If you do well, you get the praise, such as with the killing of Osama bin Laden (unless you bother to listen to a lot of your conservative media haters, who couldn’t even bring themselves to giving you credit). But when things aren’t going so well, such as our sluggish economy, you’re going to take the hit. So deal with it.
That’s why it was refreshing to see Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, make a forceful statement last week that her party owns this economy.
“We own the economy,” she said. “We own the beginning of the turnaround, and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery.”
Republicans reacted with glee to seeing a top Dem accept responsibility for the economy. They feel that it will be a yoke around the Democrats’ necks come the 2012 election.
That feeling is perfectly understandable, but not entirely a negative thing.
For anyone to suggest that today’s economy is worse than what we experienced in 2008 has to be nuts. It was stunning and debilitating to see a monthly jobs report that showed hundreds of thousands of jobs lost every month. By the end of the year, we had lost 2.6 million jobs. Yes, 2.6 million. My CNN buddy, Ali Velshi, was Mr. Doom with his daily reports on the stock market. Our nation was in a panic, and no one knew where to go and what to do.
Yet today, we have seen 25 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Have they been small? Of course! But I sure as hell would rather see the gaining of 30,000 and 50,000 or 100,000 jobs a month then to see us losing 584,000, like we did in December 2008. The issue is that economists say we need closer to 300,000 new jobs per month to get back to normal.
Well, it’s time for President Obama to stand up and say this is the new normal.
So, we better get used to it.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said repeatedly that it may be several years before unemployment falls below 7 percent. He said to expect slow growth. It’s time for our political leaders to stop lying to us, thinking we are going to return to the fast lane days. They need to make it clear that we’re driving in the school zone today.
Folks, we’ve been so used to riding high on the hog with our inflated economy that we don’t know what to do when it comes to reality. We lived through years of BS Internet companies, exploding off the pages with nonsensical valuations based on crack-like highs. And when the high wore off, we saw that we were in worse shape.
We’ve lived so far above our means with credit cards, a crazy homeownership market and outlandish spending habits that now we are paying the consequences for our actions.
So President Obama needs to make it clear: Our economy is slowly getting better, and we might as well accept the reality that we are not going to sprint our way out of this recovery. This will be a marathon.
Yes, no one wants to hear that. We want to present our usual American optimism that isn’t based on reality. Just be straight with the public and don’t present a fictitious perspective on where we should be. This isn’t 1984, so stop saying what President Reagan did. We didn’t face a near meltdown of our financial system, coupled with the massive job losses, and a housing disaster.
Dems should say, “Look, we came in with a mess, and we put the plan of action to work to get us out of the mess. Did some stuff work? Absolutely. Did some stuff not work? Sure did, and we’re fixing it.”
You say it with confidence and conviction, and you defend your policies, even when your critics are blasting you. Instead, we get a president and Democratic Party that twists and turns in the wind, hoping a voice of confusion will mollify the critics.
Yes, I’m grateful to have a job. But there is no guarantee I will keep it. So I’m saving my money, got all of my debts paid off, and hoping to ride this economy out like the three hurricanes I’ve lived through. It’s going to be a rough period for some time. I know it, we feel it, so let’s get used to it.
President Obama and the Democratic Party, no matter what you say or do, you’ll be judged on the economy. If you get thrown out of office in November 2012 because the American people think someone else can do better, fine. But there is nothing worse then getting booted from office when you weren’t even smart enough to go down fighting.
If President Obama and his administration, as well as his party, keep up their pitiful efforts in discussing this economy, go ahead and start drawing up plans for your library in Chicago. Because what they are doing now is embarrassing.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and the author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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