Barack Obama spoke to KKTV in Colorado Springs last night, which didn’t ask the tougher question of the week — are we better off than we were four years ago? — but did ask Obama to grade his performance on the economy. Obama gave himself an incomplete, which as BuzzFeed notes is the same grade Obama gave himself in 2010 and 2011:
Incomplete? Maybe Professor Obama doesn’t realize this, but report cards come out pretty soon. We’re not going to let him stay after school for extra credit at this point. Obama already flunked his midterms, so unless he’s got a better argument than a demand for an extension, he’s likely to get expelled for academic inadequacy.
Of course, Obama’s not doing much worse than his surrogates in defending his economic record. National Journal’s Jill Lawrence marvels at just how badly Democrats booted the “better off” question, even though it has been asked in every presidential election cycle for 32 years:
Democrats start their convention on Tuesday in Charlotte dogged by the unforced errors of not one but three top Obama advisers and allies who muffed a fundamental question that’s been utterly predictable ever since Ronald Reagan asked it during his campaign against President Carter more than 30 years ago.
The Obama campaign is scrambling to regain its footing, and party strategists predict that the Sunday-show flubs will be forgotten by week’s end. “Speeches by Clinton and Obama will be just what the doctor ordered,” said veteran communications strategist Doug Hattaway, referring to the former president, who is slotted for Wednesday night, and the current one, who will accept the nomination on Thursday.
But the display on TV had to be less than reassuring for Democrats, particularly since two of those who struggled with the question—senior White House adviser David Plouffe and chief campaign strategist David Axelrod—would theoretically be the coaches preparing top-tier surrogates such [as] Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who answered “No” on Sunday when asked if the country is doing better than it was four years ago.
Democrats tell Lawrence that no one will remember the “better off” answers by the end of the week. If they truly think that, they’re in bigger trouble than they realize. That’s going to be the core question of this election, and Republicans will make sure that they are focusing directly on that point for the next two months.