By Robert Schlesinger |
It's not about jobs, but taxes on the rich. It's not about a sluggish GDP, but ruthless outsourcing. It's not about the private sector's weakness, but private equity's rapaciousness. It's not about the devastation in the housing market, but the bounty in healthcare insurance.
Confused? You're supposed to be.
Politicians run on what they can, not necessarily what they want. President Barack Obama is no different. The many assurances he received early on from his economic advisers and fellow Democratic officeholders that the public would be supportive of the healthcare reform legislation and the economy would be booming by the time his re-election rolled around have proved false.
Fifty-four percent of Americans in the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll disapprove of Obama's handling on the economy, and according to Gallup, more Americans say the 2010 healthcare law "will hurt the national economy (46 percent) rather than help it (37 percent)." Not only have three recovery summers melted away like ice cream on hot asphalt (i.e., unemployment remains above 8 percent and GDP has hovered around 2 percent), but what is worse is that "56 percent of likely voters believe Obama's first term has transformed the nation in a negative way."
It's no wonder that Obama's campaign is trying to play a game of three-card monty.
Obama's latest taxes backtrack (this was his position prior to the compromise struck during the "lame duck" congressional session in 2010) will only help his prospects if Americans decide to believe his campaign's spin that the 2012 election isn't about Obama's presidency, but about George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
While the jury is out on whether Americans will again take a bet on Obama, history doesn't look good. Only one of four modern incumbent presidents in similar circumstances (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush) has managed to pull off this kind of sleight of hand. And that president, George W. Bush, did it on issues related to foreign policy, not the economy.
Even though Obama's campaign is trying every trick in the book, it's tough not to notice that even David Copperfield would have trouble with this economic illusion.
About Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research, a Polling and Consulting firm
Matt Mackowiak Republican Consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group
Penny Lee President of Venn Strategies, a Government Relations and Public Affairs firm