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Opening Arguments

Bill Clinton got one r

Stating the obvious:

The connection between political fortunes and material concerns is not exactly a revelation. A sour economy is what torpedoed Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. It's also the primary reason that the Republicans lost in 2008 to Obama—not his eloquence or policy positions.

It is deeply unfair to expect politicians to take a sickly economy and instantly restore it to health. Yet people, including politicians, act as though elected officials have magic dust that they can sprinkle on the productive sector anytime they want.

[. . .]

Consider Ronald Reagan. In 1982, thanks to a brutal recession, his approval rating fell to a puny 43 percent. Two years later, he was re-elected by a landslide.

Reagan hadn't suddenly transformed himself into a different president. The country didn't undergo an ideological shift. He was merely the beneficiary of a turn in the business cycle. Maybe his policies helped, and maybe they didn't. Either way, the rising prosperity cast him in a flattering light.

Obama's approval rating is higher than Reagan's was in 1982. So neither his critics nor his supporters should make too much of the current polls. Right now, he is stumbling in the dark. By 2012, it may be morning in America.

We all have our reasons for criticizing and defending presidents, but it's still mostly the stupid economy when it comes to their electoral success or failure.


Kevin Knuth
Thu, 01/28/2010 - 1:10pm

100% true. The President, regardless of party, gets the credit or the blame though, even though they have VERY LITTLE influence on the situation.

john b. kalb
Thu, 01/28/2010 - 7:47pm

The exception is that this president is the only one, during my lifetime, that has had ABSOLUTELY NO real-life business experience and therefore is arrogantly on his own as exhibited last night!

Kevin Knuth
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:05am


I was not aware that Reagan had business experience. What did he do?

tim zank
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:36am

Kevin, being a Governor is indeed the very same experience as running a business, unlike being a legislator which requires only (as the record will show) showing up in the chamber once in a while and voting "present". Legislating and governing are two entirely different skill sets, for the same reason great sales people make lousy managers. Barry is a salesman, not a manager.

The only business experience Teh One has came from Tony Rezko, who of course is currently incarcerated, and from years of "selling" himself as a fundraiser and a "community organizer".

Reagan (like most presidents) appointed cabinet members with private sector experience (as noted here http://www.zmetro.com/archives/014979.php) while "I"bama has surrounded himself with communists, socialists, and all around government teet-sucking sycophants.

Kevin Knuth
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:28pm

So Tim, to be clear- REAGAN made his money from TAXPAYERS and had NO PRIVATE SECTOR BUSINESS EXPERIENCE.

Thanks for clarifying that!

tim zank
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 1:02pm

Hey Kevin, guess what? You're wrong again. From 1936 until he was took office of Governor in 1967 as a SELF employed actor/movie star/television producer/television host he became a multi-millionaire. The income he derived as a civil servant was miniscule compared to his earnings as a businessman.

Take his savvy business experience, his communication skills, and his managerial expertise governing the State Of California and he was a natural for the Presidency.

You don't think things through all the time do you?

Sun, 01/31/2010 - 6:35am

To repeat Kevin's point, Leo's observation is exactly correct.