RNC Zings Obama By Pointing Out the Economy Was Worse Four Years Ago

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 8 2012 4:04 PM

RNC Zings Obama By Pointing Out the Economy Was Worse Four Years Ago

Like David St. Hubbins once said, there's a fine line between stupid and clever. Yahoo's great Chris Moody notices that the RNC's insta-video, an attempt to take advantage of the Obama story that I'll refer to as Private Sectorgate, copies a 2008 Obama ad. Plug one:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Advertisement

Plug two:

Zing! John McCain said a thing; years later, Barack Obama said a thing that sounded kind of similar. The RNC's whizzes have a good grip on what drives high-level political journalism.

One problem: Their ad demonstrates that the economy has improved since 2008. The Obama ad points out that the economy had shed 605,000 jobs that year. (The number would surge in September.) The RNC ad gives us a New York Times A1 that shows "weak" job growth in May, accompanied by a chart that shows... hang on, it shows 27 months of job growth, leading into a slow-down. Will that slow-down cost Obama the presidency? Hell, probably. But the point is that the economic trends of September 15, 2008 and June 8, 2012 don't actually hold up to comparison. And the Obama campaign's original point was bolstered by the way McCain, during months of job losses, had been using the same line.

 

McCain's stumble was followed by a hastily-convened conference in Washington at which he accidentally emboldened the Republicans who wanted to nix the bailout. Hard to remember now, because the bailout's so unpopular, but that led to a few extra days of panic and falling stocks. Whereas Obama said "fine" when he probably should have said "better."

The commonality here: McCain seemed to be saying the economy would be all right if we reformed Wall Street regulations, and Obama seemed to be saying that the shrinking public sector is the last impediment to economic growth. Still -- not quite identical statements, and made in dramatically different times.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.