Ed and Tina have both written about this so here’s the vid in case you missed it. The key bit comes at 6:15. It’s a fine bipartisan bloggy tradition to goof on the president when he looks hapless at a presser, but watching this, with the market deteriorating moment by moment, all I felt was numb. This guy very clearly has run out of things to say, even with abject terror spreading in markets over Europe’s debt crisis and the possibility that America is sliding back into recession. Ironically, his big soundbite is detached from reality twice over: Not only will we not always be an AAA nation — given the scale of our debt crisis, we won’t always be an AA+ nation either — but it’s not the downgrade that drove today’s mammoth sell-off. Treasuries, as Ed noted earlier, did just fine notwithstanding S&P’s new rating. It’s broader economic fears that punished shares and that’ll keep on punishing shares for the foreseeable future. Especially since the next recession, if it happens, will be much worse than the last one.
I don’t know why he gave this speech except as a way to check the “president comments on unprecedented downgrade” box. Jen Rubin calls it horrifyingly bad, which is true, just as it’s also true that the best he could do today in terms of a concrete response to the downgrade is promise forthcoming deficit reduction “recommendations.” (Maybe public reaction to the downgrade will convince him that he has more to lose electorally by not seizing the reins of this issue than by seizing them. That’s the only thing that could get him to act.) But the deeper horror, of course, is that not all of this will be cured by dumping The One. It’s not Obama who attached that eurozone ball-and-chain to the market’s ankle, and even a Republican president will find his or her options limited amid the next financial crisis. This is an epic fail to some extent not because Hopenchange is a spent force, which it is, but because the western world’s finally been cornered economically by entitlement liabilities that were foreseeable when The One was a toddler. The bill’s come due. What else can he say?