Obama: Are you better off than you were four years ago? I guess you're not

On the one hand, this is the worst thing an incumbent president can say, especially one who’s already struggling under the weight of comparisons to you-know-who.

On the other hand, what other answer could he give? If he sat there and tried to argue that things are improving, even Stephanopoulos might have busted out laughing. That’s how awful his political situation is right now. Like Biden talking about the economy, he’s forced to be brutally candid because even perfunctory optimistic spin would be derided as hopelessly out of touch. Better that he shows he’s in tune with the electorate’s mood, grim though it is, than cocoon himself in talking points.

The American people, he conceded, are “not better off” than they were four years ago.

“The unemployment rate is way too high,” he said of the 9 percent jobless rate, the highest in more than half a century…

Obama would not handicap the 2012 election, but objected to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he divided people more than united them. Republicans, he said, have stood in the way of working with him time and again to fix the economy.

“At every step of way, I have tried to get the Republican Party to work with me on the biggest crisis of our lifetime. And each time we’ve gotten ‘No,'” he said.

Follow the last link and read to the end and you’ll find that he’s “still working on” his assessment of gay marriage, a project that’s now well into its second decade. Here’s video of him from the same interview insisting that he’s the underdog next year. Hard to argue with that on the merits, especially with the country on the brink of a European-driven double-dip, but I can’t bring myself to believe that a liberal incumbent with the media on his side and a ginormous war chest could ever really be an underdog in America. Case in point: We all had a giggle yesterday at how his campaign’s drive to attract new donors drew only slightly more than half the number it was aiming for. Tee hee! Meanwhile, his third-quarter fundraising haul is expected to exceed $55 million, which actually represents a slow-ish period for him. Some underdog. Click the image to watch.

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