The President as a Pinata

The tone of the 2012 presidential campaign is reflected in that Volkswagen commercial showing an auto-shaped piñata being whacked at a kid’s birthday party.

How this image sells the idea of an indestructible car is not clear, but judging from last week’s GOP debate and subsequent stumping, such flailing at everything Obama is the Republican strategy for selling themselves into the White House next year.

The biggest stick for beating up on the President is the economy. A party communiqué says flatly about the White House and Congressional Democrats: “They own it.”

Yet the New York Times‘ John Harwood reports: “Mr. Obama’s policies, for better or worse, have something to do with current employment levels and growth rates. But economic advisers to Republican politicians concede that most of the distress Americans feel now stems from the recession and financial crisis he inherited.

“Glenn Hubbard…who led the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, criticized Mr. Obama’s spending, tax and regulatory strategies for ‘actively’ retarding the recovery. Yet he added, ‘There could have been policies that made a difference–but not a sea change.’

“Mark Zandi…who advised Mr. Obama’s 2008 opponent, Senator John McCain, went further. Had he been elected president, Mr. McCain’s near-term policy choices would have largely overlapped with Mr. Obama’s, he said–and the differences would have had only marginal effects by now.”

That’s the reality, but in the battle of sound bites and slogans, will that make a difference to worried voters?

MORE.

Author: ROBERT STEIN

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2 Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. Either the government is responsible for these great fixes, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then stop telling us how the bailouts and stimuli saved us from the brink of disaster. If it is, then admit failure.

    I personally agree that there’s not much you can do after the train wreck, but I’m tired of politicians selling us their life-saving pork afterward.

  2. It’s either pork from self-serving politicians, or from academia, simply wanting spending and interventionism.

    Alan Blinder got a column published in the Wall Street Journal that is a classic, defending government spending (“The GOP Myth of Job-Killing Spending”). Classic…

    Meanwhile, we knew better but gave the Dems a chance after 2008 anyway for a stimulus — and they ruined that opportunity. We were right, though generous and lenient toward them at the time, nevertheless. Why should we continue the leniency after what they did with their generously-provided, publicly-observed opportunity?

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