President Obama must not be familiar with the old saying, "He who excuses himself accuses himself." With a pessimistic populace still dealing with high unemployment, low economic growth and rising fuel prices, he can't campaign on his record. His only hope for re-election is to pin the blame on someone or something else.
The president's economic track record is getting worse. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that the nation's economic output was lower than expected in the first quarter. The growth rate dropped from 3 percent in the previous quarter to a measly 2.2 percent. The main culprit was the 3.1 percent decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, which means businesses are not spending as much on buildings and equipment.
Mr. Obama and his allies are building a cover story to deflect such developments. At a $2.1 million presidential fundraiser on Sunday night, former President Bill Clinton offered a history lesson to explain why the economy is still dragging after three years with Mr. Obama in charge.
"If you go back 500 years, whenever a country's financial system collapses, it takes between five and 10 years to get back to full employment," Mr. Clinton, said, without citing any source for this information. "If you go back for the last 200 years, when buildings had been widely owned by individuals and companies, if there's a mortgage collapse, it almost always takes 10 years. He's beating the clock, not behind it. Don't listen to those Republicans." By this reasoning, we wouldn't even see a recovery until well after the end of a second Obama term. It's not a very inspiring re-election message.
That's not to say Mr. Obama has stopped passing the buck to the last Republican who held the keys to the White House. "In 2009, I took office in the face of some enormous challenges," Mr. Obama joked to media bigwigs and Hollywood A-listers attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on Saturday. "Some have said I blame too many problems on my predecessor, but let's not forget that's a practice that was initiated by George W. Bush." The mostly liberal crowd laughed.
President Reagan inherited an even worse economy in 1980, but you never heard the Gipper pass the buck to President Carter. Instead, he revived the economy with massive tax reform and a business-friendly regulatory environment. By 1984, Reagan was able to run on the slogan, "It's morning again in America."
The Obama 2012 campaign hasn't come up with a slogan so far, but its online store sells paraphernalia with phrases such as: "I like Obamacare" and "Health care reform still a BFD" and a Bo the dog pin that says "I bark for Obama." These bumper stickers make Mr. Carter's "Not just peanuts" moniker sound like a call to arms.
More troubling than Mr. Obama's song and dance about why Americans are not better off now than they were four years ago is that with him taking no responsibility, a second term means more of the same failed policies: higher taxes, increased spending and the full implementation of Obamacare. Voters in November deserve better results in return for their ballot choice.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times. She won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.
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