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July 05, 2011

Goldberg: Unless Obama's About To Put Up Some Reagan-Like GDP Numbers, Reagan-Like Campaign Themes Won't Help Him

One thing I've noticed about the left and the chattering class (but I repeat myself) is a childish elevation of the power of words.

Words are powerful. What is more powerful is facts. A poet can paint a picture of a stone in flight with words but you know it is cold and hard if it strikes you in the head.

Obama's searching for a way to win 2012. They tend to look to prior successful campaigns for themes that seemed to work. They're looking at Reagan 1984 as their model. But they're probably going to be facing Reagan 1980 as their opponent's model, and their opponent will have the much better case to make.

5.1, 9.3, 8.1, 8.5, 8, 7.1 and 3.9....

They are the quarterly percentage gains in gross domestic product starting in 1983 through to Election Day 1984. And they aren't the only significant numbers. In 1984, real income for individuals grew by more than 6% and inflation plummeted. The unemployment rate in November 1984 was still 7.2% — relatively high — but it had dropped from 10.8% in December 1982, and it was clear the momentum was for even lower unemployment. "Staying the course" with Ronald Reagan made sense to most people, which is why he won re-election in a 49-state landslide.

Sadly for Obama — but far worse for the country — that kind of growth seems like a pipe dream. Last month, the Federal Reserve lowered its forecast for 2011 GDP growth from a range of 3.1% to 3.3%, made just two months earlier, to a much slower 2.7% to 2.9%. And it revised downward its projections for 2012 and 2013 as well.

They tried to use Reagan 1984 as a model of avoiding the Big Red Wave in the 2010 elections:

Reportedly, Obama's speechwriters even studied Reagan's speeches for tips on how to frame the choice. They concluded, since Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for the country's problems, Obama should do likewise with Bush. Reagan said Americans faced a choice between "going back" to the old policies and pressing ahead with new ones. Obama parroted the same line: "This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess, or the policies that are leading out of the mess," Obama said in a campaign appearance for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "America doesn't go backwards, we go forwards."

You can't use the slogan "It's morning in America" when it's actually a quarter past midnight.



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posted by Ace at 07:37 PM

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