Bill Clinton’s remarkable text: In Paul Krugman’s new column, he notes how weak the reporting has been about our economic mess.
Beyond that, he says that “Obama’s political team” has done a poor job explaining this mess. Finally, he expresses a view about campaign strategy:
KRUGMAN (6/4/12): So why don’t voters know any of this?Warning! Krugman recommends an approach which worked for Harry Truman—in 1948.
Part of the answer is that far too much economic reporting is still of the he-said, she-said variety, with dueling quotes from hired guns on either side. But it’s also true that the Obama team has consistently failed to highlight Republican obstruction, perhaps out of a fear of seeming weak. Instead, the president’s advisers keep turning to happy talk, seizing on a few months’ good economic news as proof that their policies are working—and then ending up looking foolish when the numbers turn down again. Remarkably, they’ve made this mistake three times in a row: in 2010, 2011 and now once again.
At this point, however, Mr. Obama and his political team don’t seem to have much choice. They can point with pride to some big economic achievements, above all the successful rescue of the auto industry, which is responsible for a large part of whatever job growth we are managing to get. But they’re not going to be able to sell a narrative of overall economic success. Their best bet, surely, is to do a Harry Truman, to run against the “do-nothing” Republican Congress that has, in reality, blocked proposals—for tax cuts as well as more spending—that would have made 2012 a much better year than it’s turning out to be.
We’re not experts on the public’s views in that distant year. Nor do we think there's an obvious winning play for Obama to make this year. (Krugman's suggestion may be the best.)
But uh-oh! By this year, voters may hear a term like “do-nothing Congress” in a new, different way.
For decades, voters have been told we’re better off when those crooks in the Congress do nothing. Approaches that worked for Truman—or for Ted Kennedy—may not work the same way today.
Regarding Kennedy, we’ll guess there were few Democratic complaints when he attacked Mitt Romney’s conduct at Bain Capital during Campaign 1994.
Eighteen years later, everyone from Bill Clinton on down has jumped on Obama for the same play. The political landscape has been changing, sometimes not in good ways.
For our money, the text of Bill Clinton’s statement on Bain is one of the most remarkable texts we’ve seen in our years at this site.
Did Romney engage in the type of “looting” Bill Clinton described? Plainly, you’re not allowed to ask! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/1/12.
Note to Obama’s political team: Harry doesn’t live here any more. So too, as you've already seen, with winning approaches by Ted.