Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Message: we fixed it

Message: we fixed it: "

THE Obama administration has been pushing the following image out across the internet:

It's a brilliant image for them for a couple of reasons. It reminds voters of who was in charge when things fell apart. It shows a clear trend break around the time Mr Obama took office, implying that the new administration got things turned around immediately. And it uses the upward trend to mask the fact that these are still monthly job losses, November excepted. It's hard to argue with the strategy. Among the criticisms the administration has been hearing from strategists on the left is that Ronald Reagan survived a deep recession in his first term because he had a compelling narrative detailing who was to blame for the downturn and why. Mr Obama, they complain, has allowed himself to be saddled with the responsibility of much of the downturn's persistence. This is somewhat overstated; polls still show that most voters hold the Bush adminstration primarily responsibile for the recession.

But this is all positioning around the fringes of the broader political gyre that is the jobless recovery. One month of job creation in twelve is not good enough. Another year with employment above 9% will severely test the popularity of the president, which has so far proven surprisingly resilient. In the end, it's not about charts but about jobs, and the administration is finding it much tougher to create the latter than the former.

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