Republicans - even This Week nutjobs like Dana Loesch and GOP handmaidens like Ruth Marcus - will be much more credible on the economy if they stick to talking about statistics, because the unemployment numbers are simply grim. (And as we know, the real numbers are much worse. There are 22.8 million people in need of a decent job: 12.7 unemployed according to "official" statistics, 7.7 million underemployed, and 2.4 million who have stopped looking. ("The Betrayal of the American Dream," Donald Barlett and James Steele.)
As George Will points out, 68% of Americans know someone who's lost his or her job. And that's a real problem for the Obama administration. The president would have a much better chance if he simply said, "Look, we really thought this would work but I took bad advice. I see now that an inadequate stimulus is like giving your kid half the dosage of anitbiotics for a serious infection, it only made the disease stronger. Elect me and a Democratic congress, and we promise to fix this mess." But as we know, President Obama has Fonzie syndrome when it comes to admitting policy mistakes.
Fortunately, we know conservatives can't control themselves for long, and will also continue to make accusations that are just plain crazy, and turn people off. So the president has that going for him, which is nice:
DOWD: David, I want to turn to the economy, which is, I think, Mitt Romney is going to come back and as quickly as he possibly can and probably start talking about the economy again and hope that he gets some plus from the trip.
CHALIAN: He'll have a jobs report on Friday to help him talk about it.
DOWD: So a jobs report on Friday, which will come out, but we just had a GDP figure that -- 1.5 percent -- that was mediocre at best. From what you've seen over the past, is that a plus for Barack Obama or is that a minus for Barack Obama?
CHALIAN: I don't know how it can be a plus. The GDP number is a minus for Barack Obama, and to me, the single most interesting poll number in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll that came out this week was the question -- they asked Americans, look forward 12 months, do you think the economy is going to get better or worse or stay the same? Twenty-seven percent of the country thinks that the economy is going to get better. That is the lowest all year long and actually dropped 8 points from last month. That is the weight of three bad months of jobs numbers. This GDP number is going to add to that. And if there's a not significant uptick, I think that each month of these jobs reports, it does compound.
Largely it's baked into the American people. The economy is clearly bad, right? But if we're down to only 27 percent of the people are actually optimistic that the economy will get better in (inaudible) that is a very tough...
DOWD: Donna, are Democrats worried about that? Are they concerned that that -- those sort of baked-in numbers right now are going to make it very hard for President Obama to win this election?
BRAZILE: Oh, look, no question politically it matters. I mean, a weak economy hurts the incumbent. But on the other hand, we're not sitting around on our hands, you know, looking for things to get worse before, you know, we try to help people.
Yes, the economy is tough for President Obama, but I do believe that he has a lot of credibility that he can out there and talk about the things that -- the steps he's taken, the steps that he would like to take, and the steps that the Republicans will continue to oppose, because simply they've decided there's one mission in life, and that is to defeat Barack Obama.
But, you know, back in 1980, when we had a Democratic president during hard times, Ronald Reagan had some credibility in going out there and talking to blue-collar voters, because he came from a union household, he was president of a union, he talked about his father getting laid off during Christmas. He had the narrative. Mitt Romney? He talks about firing people.
WILL: And let me give you another number to add to yours: 68 percent of Americans know someone who has lost his job. Now, the question is, is it going to get better? I think right now we're in what can be fairly called a growth recession. That sounds like an oxymoron. It isn't. We're now in the fourth year of a recovery, and we're growing but receding at the same time, because we're not growing fast enough to create enough jobs to even take account of the natural growth of the workforce.
And look what -- at the variables that have to be feared by the Obama campaign. First is Europe, which means Spain. By the way, in the last 15 months, a majority of European governments have been changed by restive electorates.
Then there's the emerging markets, Brazil, India and China, have slowed down. We have the fiscal cliff coming up with our own tax policy at the end of the year. Dodd-Frank is two years old and still there's so much uncertainty about it, because it's about half-written. Food prices are going up in part because we're putting 40 percent of our corn crop in our gas tanks because of ethanol.
WILL: And the election itself is a great source of -- of uncertainty.
DOWD: Ruth, some people have begun to get this sense that this economy has been bad for so long and that people are now having to resettle at a different point, and that basically what's going to happen is that Americans sort of shrug their shoulders and say, listen, there's not much a president can do about this, and so I'm going to pick a president that I sort of feel more in sync with, which seems to be an advantage for the president on that issue. But will the economy and those factors that have been talked about still determine it?
MARCUS: I -- I think so. And since everybody's throwing out numbers, my favorite one for the week is 53 percent of those in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll disapprove of President Obama's handling of the economy. People do understand, I think, that there's a limited amount that a president can do. Nonetheless, I think the most powerful argument from the Republican side this week was he's -- you tried, he's tried, it's not working. Let's give somebody else a chance. That's hard to rebut, given the limp along.
And for all the fun we've had this week with Romney gaffes and Mitt the Twit headlines, I think the worst week went to President Obama because of this unspinnable 1.5 percent growth number.
LOESCH: And -- and you want to talk about gaffes. Here we have 41 straight months of unemployment that's been over 8 percent, which was -- the stimulus was supposed to have fixed. In terms of gaffes, it's not good to have the president get up in front of people during an election cycle and say, well, if you have a small business, you didn't built that, or as some have tried to say, oh, he took -- the Republicans took something out of context.