How much damage did Friday’s jobs report — the third disappointment in a row — do to Barack Obama’s re-election effort? It might take some time for the answer to be fully known, but one measure might be the reaction in the media. The Washington Post news report of Obama’s response to the worst jobs quarter in two years explicitly wonders whether Obama can maintain the position that his policies are doing anything to help, and whether he has any new ideas to break the country out of this stagnation:
Obama’s message on his two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania has been twofold. First, he pointed to modest signs of progress in rebuilding the economy–the health of the auto industry is his principal case study across Ohio’s northern tier. At the same time, he warned that the medicine offered by Romney and the Republicans is exactly the wrong prescription.
As he said here Friday morning, “We tried it, and didn’t work.”
But it has become increasingly difficult for the president to argue that what he has tried is working well, or that he has something new to offer. Each month that the economy produces fewer jobs than are needed just to keep pace with population growth adds to the burden the president faces as the clock ticks toward November.
The Post also noticed that Obama tried avoiding the subject, and hoped that voters would give him a pass on it:
Obama barely mentioned the latest jobs report in his first appearance after it was released. “It’s still tough out there,” he said. But June’s hiring numbers, like those for May, were another reminder that there is still no bigger issue in the campaign than the economy and that its weight threatens to defeat the president four months from now.
Obama’s advisers offered two thoughts about the latest numbers: first, that the bad news was expected, seemingly a sign that they were resigned to a negative reaction; second, that the public still gives the president some slack because of the economy he inherited and that the campaign still offers him the chance to make the case that he would do more than Romney to help the middle class.
Good luck with that strategy. Voters routinely put jobs and the economy first in their concerns when contemplating their vote, and any other issue shows up a distant second. (In most polls, the second-place issue is the federal deficit, which isn’t a good topic for Obama, either.) Even Robert Reich has tired of Obama dodging the issue of jobs and the economy with the “I inherited a bad economy” excuse. As the Post implicitly underscores, the issue is no longer 2008, but 2012, and it’s clear that we’re not moving in the right direction.
Investors Business Daily’s Michael Ramirez offers a more concise look at the impact of the jobs report on the Obama campaign:
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history. Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.
And a heads-up — Ramirez will have a new book out soon. We’ll have more on that later this summer.