Published for www.keithhennessey.com, June 12th, 2012
President Obama made not one but two strategic mistakes last Friday. Everyone paying attention picked up on his first mistake. The President said “The private sector is doing fine,” a quote that Republicans will use to great effect during the remainder of this election cycle.
The President’s second mistake is as important but less obvious. President Obama spoke a second time Friday afternoon. He did not, as reported by some, correct his earlier statement. He instead reinforced it. The President’s second mistake was his decision to stick with an economic argument that is unsupportable by facts, easy to disprove, and politically damaging to him. President Obama will never again say “The private sector is doing fine,” but it appears he will continue to make an economic argument that Republicans can easily rebut.
In addition to the specific deadly quote, this second Presidential mistake presents a significant election opportunity for Governor Romney and other in-cycle Republicans, but only if they treat the President’s argument as serious and seek to debate him, not just to hurl invective. The President is sticking to his guns about what ails the economy and how to fix it. Republicans should relish the opportunity to debate this question extensively.