The farther away I get from the 2008 presidential election, the more amazed I am at how well John McCain did in the November balloting. Our anxieties about the economy were stoked by a media eager to portray the then-President as a failure and McCain the candidate of that man’s party couldn’t articulate a coherent economic message.
McCain’s campaign slogan had little to do with Americans’ (then-) current concerns. He did nothing to calm our fears, did not clearly articulate a plan to improve things.
And in came Barack Obama, calm, cool, collected. He tapped into our anxieties and promised change.
People trusted him to fix the economy and yet, while there are still signs of recovery, unemployment continues to climb with only one in eight American employers expected “to add to their workforce” in the fourth quarter this year. While hiring expectations “are improving around the world,” 14% of domestic employers “expect a decline” in their workforce.
My advice thus to the President, use his speech tonight to recall how he owed his electoral success to economic anxiety, choosing to put health care overhaul on the back burner and focus on the economy. I mean, just imagine the speech,
Many of you have rallied this past month against radical reform of health care; I’ve heard your concerns. I agree. We need to slow this down, take some time to craft a solid program for reform. Meanwhile, many Americans are losing their jobs, while others fear they could be the next to be laid off. Let’s first fix the economy before we proceed to other necessary projects. You elected me to fix the economy. And that’s what I’m going to do.
Should he speak those words or something similar, he’d reverse his slide in the polls, would probably pick up a point or two (or half-dozen) and leave Republicans confused, confounded and sputtering.
My fellow partisans may declare victory in stalling Obamacare, but the President would have regained the initiative.