Johnny Carson used to have a great running gag in which he played Carnac the Magnificent, a man who could answer questions that he had yet to read simply by holding the envelope containing the query to his forehead. Predicting the future is pretty easy when you script the gag yourself, however. When you’re President, you’d be better off avoiding prognostication, as Barack Obama discovered on Friday. At 11 am, Obama told a crowd at the Washington Navy Yard that “things will get better” in the American economy (via Jim Hoft):

But what I want the American people and our partners around the world to know is this: We are going to get through this,” said Obama. “Things will get better, and we are going to get there together.

How did that prediction work out? Around nine hours later, S&P downgraded American debt for the first time in decades. Hi-yoooooo!

Of course, it could have been worse. Obama gave that prediction for free. His last economic prediction — that he could keep unemployment under 8% with Obamanomics — cost us over $800 billion in 2009.

Addendum: Yeah, I’m old enough to remember Carson.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!