Published for The Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2012
Both Democratic euphoria and Republican angst over President Obama’s convention bounce were short-lived. The bounce is modest and likely to diminish. What remains is Mr. Obama’s convention address, which reveals weaknesses in his message for the campaign’s final months.
In his speech in Charlotte, N.C., last Thursday, Mr. Obama said, “I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have.” In truth, he did. Mr. Obama and his economic team claimed in a Jan. 9, 2009, report that if his stimulus bill were passed, joblessness would peak at 8% in eight months and decline to roughly 5.6% by today. Instead, unemployment has been at 8% or higher for 43 months.
Remember the administration’s “Recovery Summer” PR offensives? In April 2010, Mr. Obama said, “We are beginning to turn the corner.” Then in June 2010, he said “our economy is getting stronger by the day.” Vice President Joe Biden predicted job gains of 500,000 a month. In August 2010, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner penned an op-ed entitled “Welcome to the Recovery.”
So why was the president insisting last week that two terms were required to affect an economic recovery? This week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll provides a clue: 32% of voters say they are not as well off as when he became president, 47% say they are about the same, and only 20% say they are better off.