Opinion: As Obama talks war, Americans see economic gloom: 66% wrong track and only 23% sense any recovery


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It’s been 11,194 days since Gov. Ronald Reagan delivered his devastating closing lines in Cleveland during the last debate of the 1980 campaign against President Jimmy Carter.

Reagan said:

Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.

Within three days, internal Carter tracking polls detected the incumbent’s narrow lead melting into a Reagan avalanche that cascaded into 12 years of Republican dominance in the White House.


In the 503 days remaining before the 2012 presidential election, you may hear a Republican candidate ask some similar rhetorical questions, according to a new Bloomberg National Poll out this morning.

In fact, you may have already heard something along these lines.

Twenty-five months into what was supposed to be the economic recovery of the Obama-Biden administration, the poll finds a whopping 66% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. They no longer buy the oft-used inherited-big-economic-hole line.

Reagan had some rocky economic times too during his first two years, but his wrong track numbers never topped 57%.

Despite all the Joe Biden promises, only 23% of Americans say they see any signs of economic recovery. Only one-in-ten expects employment to recover within two years.

In fact, Americans 44-34 say they are worse off now than when Aretha Franklin sang and Barack Obama took the oath of office with a 69% approval rating.

Ominously for Democrats, who already suffered the loss of the House last election day, a sizable majority (55%), including 40% of Democrats, now agree with the congressional GOP position that tax and spending cuts are more likely to reduce unemployment than Obama’s preferred stimulus spending.

Even worse for national leadership campaigns that usually rely on morning in America optimism for success, another 55% of poll respondents say their children are condemned to a lower standard of living than their parents have today.


This all sounded somehow strangely familiar to us early this morning. But how could that be? The Bloomberg findings had just come out.

So, we went back and re-read our published transcript of the GOP presidential campaign announcement speech of Gov. Jon Huntsman from Tuesday. His new advance people experienced a rash of rookie mistakes on opening day.

But here’s what Huntsman said on the same site near the Statue of Liberty where Ronald Reagan launched his successful 1980 campaign:

Today Americans are experiencing, through no fault of their own, something that is totally alien to them -- a sense that the deck is stacked against them by forces totally beyond their control. No matter how hard they work, save and plan, the opportunities are not there for them as were present for previous generations. Perhaps saddest of all, we have lost faith in ourselves. For the first time in history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive and less confident than the one we got.

You don’t suppose Huntman’s done some polling too and detected the same corrosive currents that are historically so politically lethal for incumbents?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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