Sure, fourteen months is an eternity in politics. Sure, it's way too early in the '12 cycle to count anybody out, much less the incumbent president of the United States.
The economy is so dismal that President Barack Obama will have to re-write the political history books if he hopes to win re-election, political strategists say.
The latest bad news for Team Obama: Economic growth for the second quarter was revised downward from 1.3% to a mere 1% on Friday -- far below the level of activity required to put a dent in the nation’s chronic, high joblessness.
Those slumping GDP numbers followed an economic-outlook report by the Congressional Budget Office that likely touched off alarm bells in Obama’s campaign. Despite optimistic assumptions about GDP growth, inflation, and deficit-spending, the CBO projected U.S. unemployment to be at or above 8.5% through the fourth quarter of 2012.
That means President Obama will have to earn a return engagement to the White House under virtually unprecedented circumstances. And he’ll likely have to alter his campaign strategy to do it.
Why? Because no president has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 7.2%. And the one who pulled it off - Ronald Reagan in 1984 - did so because that joblessness number was plummeting beneath a roaring economic recovery produced by his supply-side economic policies. Reaganomics worked, everybody could see it, and the Gipper was freed up to run on his victory lap "Morning in America" theme.
The contrast with Red Barry couldn't be more stark. Obamanomics - which was overtly and expressly designed to roll back that quarter-century economic boom - has been wildly successful in that prosperity-destroying, job-killing, liberty-eradicating, country-weakening mission, and there isn't time to turn it around now even if more phony, debt-exacerbating statist gimmickery would even slow down the decline.
Dr. Chicago can't run on his record. So he'll employ the only strategy left to him, and the one that is nearest and dearest to his black, flinty, "Dr. Evil" heart - the politics of mass destruction:
[InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt] Towery, who served as a political strategist for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1980s and 90s, expects Obama to go sharply negative in an effort to redirect attention from the moribund economy to whether the GOP alternative can be trusted.
“There’s only one thing in politics you do when you’re that low,” he says. “You try to bloody the other guy up just as much as you can.
“I mean, it’s the only answer. I don’t care what anybody says: He can’t put enough commercials on about how hard he works or whatever. It isn’t even working in the African-American community. When Maxine Waters is out there giving you trouble, you know you’ve got problems.”
With unemployment so high, Towery says, the bottom line for Obama and the Democrats is brutally simple: “They’ve got to just bloody up whoever gets the nomination, or the party as a whole,” he says.
B.O. would, naturally, have done this anyway. But vindication of Hogzilla - which, remember, was supposed to "fix" the economy all by itself - would have given him plenty of cover for such viciousness. It would have been a secondary compliment to Hopenchange II. But it's not a viable standalone "main course" strategy. Yes, negative campaigning works, but not without a positive message to inhabit the other side of the proverbial coin. Even an incumbent has to offer SOME reason to vote for him in addition to voting against his challenger, especially as a run for re-election is a referendum on the incumbent's first term by definition. Any attempt to try to change the subject from his rotten economy after all the empty promises and strutting, self-righteous, preachy hectoring and despicable classist demogoguery will only focus public attention on the complete failure of Obamanomics all the more for how [hyuk] transparent it'll be.
There's an old saying: "What you are speaks so loudly, I can't hear what a word you're saying." The American public has already tuned out the L'il President. A year-long temper tantrum will only stiffen their resolve to take out the trash the Obamidency has become.
[cross-posted @ Hard Starboard]