EDITORIAL OPINION: As the gavel fell for the last time on this year’s Democrat Convention, national polls show Barak Obama and Mitt Romney in a virtual tie at 46% – 46%. Considering Romney continues to draw the worst personal approval ratings for a presidential candidate in 28 years compared to Obama’s higher approval ratings, why can’t the incumbent pull away in a race that will be settled two months from now?
For many the answer to that question seems to be obvious. When another incumbent, George H.W. Bush, was fighting for a second term against upstart Bill Clinton, James Carville explained the simple reason Bush would lose his re-election bid: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Love him or hate him, Carville was right. The economy was stagnant and people were ready for a change.
As Barak Obama took center stage last night for his acceptance speech, he and his party find themselves victims of Democrat Carville’s lingering words, “It’s the economy stupid.” Eight years ago, Obama was a virtual unknown whose convention keynote address catapulted him into the limelight. Four years later, he accepted the Democrat Party’s nomination and became its standard bearer. And as that standard bearer he may wish all evidence of Carville’s words would magically disappear.
Unlike Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush before him, this president had no executive experience on any level before taking the highest office in the land. Now, as executive of the United States of America, Barak Obama will soon face a referendum on how well he has assumed that mantle. Last night he told his rabid supporters: “I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed, and so have I … I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the president.”
Many Democrats’ optimistic view of President Obama’s reelection chances is based on the false notion that the president’s current political situation can be compared to President Reagan’s at the same point in their presidencies. As the National Review noted, the mantra of party spokesmen has become, “Not to worry. Reagan’s unemployment numbers were this bad or worse in his first two years in office and he was reelected.”
David Winston wrote recently in the National Review:
Reagan, like Obama, inherited a terrible economy suffering from stagnation and high unemployment. But that’s where the comparison ends, because Obama’s response … bears no resemblance to the supply-side approach of Ronald Reagan. In fact, the two policies are mirror opposites, and so are the results.
Comparing the two presidencies at identical moments in their first terms is a contrast in style and substance. In September 2011, President Obama has just announced yet another plan for job growth before a joint session of Congress. Last month, his economic plan managed to create zero jobs. At this same moment in 1983, Ronald Reagan’s policies were about to create 1.1 million jobs in the month of September alone, the biggest one-month job gain since the Bureau of Labor Statistics officially began keeping track back in February 1939.
But blaming the economy alone for where this presidential race stands at this moment in time is too simplistic. There is something wrong at the very heart of the American political system. “Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites,” said Obama. “And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising.” He is right about that but refuses to acknowledge his complicity in the matter. The “Hope and Change” candidate has become the “attack and duck” incumbent. “Hope and Change” has become “point and blame.”
Ronald Regan could have spent four years taking our current president’s tack. Both men inherited a mess. Both men promised something different. And that is where the comparisons end. In a time when there was no alternative to the Big Three networks’ constant cheerleading for the opposition, Ronald Reagan pushed on doing the job of the president.
Reagan’s approval ratings quickly slipped as he set about to do what he had promised to do. He made mistakes. Most notably, as he later admitted, not allowing for the legislative branch’s unwillingness to cut spending. The jobless rate was still high less than a month before the elections in 1984 and many blamed their Chief Executive. And it was at this point where the starkest contrast between Obama and Reagan can be drawn.
Reagan knew things were looking better. It was no smoke and mirrors when a Reagan re-election ad proclaimed, “Its morning again in America.” The month before the election, the United States experienced its single largest one-month gain in employment recorded since the Great Depression. There were no negative ads, no attacks on the character of his opponent, no fingers pointed backward or excuse making – just a reassuring certainty that this country was headed in the right direction.
After the Republican Convention, President Obama said Mitt Romney and the convention were like black and white reruns. Looking back to Reagan, I realize something. I was a twenty-something both times I voted for the Gipper. I, too, wanted something new, something different. But as a newlywed, I also faced tough economic times; staggering inflation, long gas lines, and what Reagan described as a malaise that had settled over the land.
In such times I wanted other twenty-somethings for friends but not for president. I wanted my grandfather. I wanted someone who had been battle tested, made the hard decisions, was willing to bear responsibility for his actions, and who would lead. Romney is no Reagan; I’m the first to admit it. Even so, I think the teenagers have had their four years to play with this country.
It’s time to have some grown-ups at the helm again.
©2012 Off the Grid News