The Good News Paradox in Obama’s America

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It feels like a curse. Ordinarily, we would have no reason to be anything other than joyous about the Labor Department report released on Friday. The economy added 151,000 jobs in October, and economists are starting to see real signs of recovery and discard fears of a double-dip recession. Two articles in The New York Times support this sense of optimism by putting the statistics in historical perspective and sharing encouraging predictions by an economist who saw the housing crisis coming as early as 2005. But the news is nonetheless scant comfort considering that the American people illustrated on Tuesday that they’ve already been brainwashed into believing that Obama’s fiscal policies have failed, and the President refuses to stand up for himself.

The Times article on Saturday explains that the highest number of jobs created in a single month during the last decade was 208,000. Considering that we’re still recovering from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is astonishing that Obama’s policies have not only prevented Depression 2.0, but have also added 151,000 jobs in a month less than two years later. Furthermore, the two sectors that created the most jobs were education and health care. Can it be a coincidence that these are two areas that Obama has focused on with special care throughout his presidency? In addition, as The Times reports, “the government also revised upward the numbers for August and September, showing 110,000 fewer jobs lost,” and overall “the American economy has added 860,000 positions this calendar year.”

Sunday’s Times article discusses the forecast of Ian Shepherdson, the aforementioned economist. Considering that, among other good news, “the stock market clawed its way back to levels last reached just before the calamitous events of fall 2008,” Shepherdson expects there to be “no double-dip recession” and a return to a “real, properly growing recovery” as early as “the second half of 2011.” This is largely due to the fact that “the credit contraction seems to be coming to an end,” in other words, slowly but surely banks appear likely to start lending to small businesses again, the latter of which accounted for roughly “two-thirds of all new job creation” last cycle. Though it does not come up in the article, there can be no doubt that Obama’s recent legislative achievement to pump more loans into small businesses will continue to further buttress this trend.

I say all this “feels like a curse,” however, because no matter what happens nothing Obama does is good enough for the American people or himself. The population roundly rejected his performance as president last week (I will decidedly not concede that they repudiated his policies because most people don’t know what his polices actually are), and he never defends his agenda. Perhaps if Friday’s report had come out before Tuesday matters might be different. But I doubt it. As with virtually all his accomplishments, instead of promoting his success the President characterized the jobs report as “good. But not good enough.”

And the American people have taken him at his word. Or at the Republicans.’ In either case there’s no chance for the public to realize how much change Obama has wrought. All we hear now is either: conservatives calling the President an out-of-control spender who has no regard for the national debt and raises taxes while expanding government; prior Obama supporters lamenting that “this is not the change or the man I voted for;” or the President lamely explaining that “change takes time.” Of course it does. And the American people betray their ignorance and stupidity by failing to recognize this obvious fact.

But why can’t Obama explain how much real change he’s brought, which is all the more remarkable since he’s done it so quickly? Sure Washington is still a mess, but why can’t he bring himself to tell the people that partisanship still rules because the Republicans refused to embrace their own policies out of hatred for Obama in the cases of creating a bipartisan budget-deficit committee or mandating that everyone join high-risk insurance pools (which has been embraced by Mitt Romney, who put a similar program in place in Massachusetts, Bob Dole, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, to name a few), among many other examples? And why can’t he clearly communicate the concept that Americans will no longer lose their health care if they get fired or sick? Or that health care reform is designed to reduce the national debt? Or that government jobs have actually decreased by over 357,000 since he took office? Or that he has cut taxes for 95% of Americans with the Stimulus and his recent small business lending bill, both of which the Republicans opposed? His impotence in the face of their ludicrous objection that the lending bill will encourage banks to engage in excessive risk-taking in spite of their resistance to financial reform, which is designed to regulate recklessness on Wall Street, is inexplicable and inexcusable. How could he let them get away with that?

All this is shocking because the last thing anyone expected in 2008 was that Obama would have trouble communicating. He campaigned back then with such power and eloquence. Remember when Glenn Beck and co indignantly maintained that Obama was cheating somehow because he committed the awful sin of using teleprompters? Although in those days such criticism was pathetic, underscoring how hard the right had to work to attack a seemingly invincible President, there was unwittingly some tragic truth to the smear campaign. In retrospect, the teleprompter nonsense was just one step in a long series of attempts to convey to the public that Obama’s a fraud: he’s not really such a good speaker because he can’t convey his own thoughts on the fly. This would shortly thereafter mutate into the broader charges that he’s not really a citizen, that he’s a secret socialist and Muslim with a sinister plot to destroy America, and that in either case he’s un-American.

Although the latter claims are of course vicious lies, the teleprompter attack has some ironic basis in reality. Even though he can still rally a crowd when he chooses, it turns out that Obama has thus far done a historically bad job at communicating. And his reaction to Friday’s promising job report suggests that he may continue to beat up on himself indefinitely, although one could excuse his decision to try to avoid a repeat of the epic blunder his administration made early on by asserting that unemployment will not exceed 8%.

Everyone knows Obama is brilliant. Even his enemies do, which is why they try to use it against him. In spite of his many accomplishments, the Midterms have proved that legislative achievements aren’t enough. Hopefully, the President will devote more time to improve his pr and fight back against the conservatives.

For more articles check out my blog:

Times articles about jobs report:

Obama’s small business lending bill/tax cuts:

Government jobs decrease by over 357,000 under Obama:

Republicans first promote bi-partisan budget deficit committee and then reject it when Obama takes them up on their offer
Creating mandatory insurance exchanges is a conservative idea:
Heritage Foundation—

Bob Dole—

Americans are ignorant about Obama’s policies…

A New York Times/CBS poll shows that less than 10% of Americans know Obama cut taxes for 95% of Americans:
Pew Research poll shows half of Americans think Obama started TARP:

Health Care Reform will reduce budget deficits:

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A recent graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, I consider myself a student of Melville and Shakespeare. Particularly, my fascination with Moby Dick has sparked a broader interest in many fields such as politics, history, science, economics, etc, since that novel deals with disparate disciplines and issues in an encyclopedic, yet accessible manner.

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