My favorite contributor over at Black Entertainment Television wrote a piece on President Obama’s eroding support among African Americans -specifically on his dismal handling of the economy. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, Obama’s African American support has dropped from 77%, to just over half supporting his stewardship of the economy. What a difference just two and a half years can make! When the president was elected, the exuberance among African Americans was infectious, joyous, and a bit overly optimistic as this clip from the day after the election shows:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36x8rTb3jI nolink]
Liberals and African Americans still clinging to “hope and change” cite in the president’s defense that he inherited a terrible economy from President Bush and that Obama can’t be expected to turn the economy around in only two and half years. It’s almost a plausible argument – until you start comparing this presidency and economy with the economy our 40th President inherited from Jimmy Carter in 1981.
When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981, interest rates were at 21%, inflation was at a wrenching 13.5%, and unemployment was at 7%. In contrast, when President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, interest rates were at a historically low 3.25%, inflation stood at 4.2%, and unemployment was at 7.8%. The misery index (the addition of inflation and unemployment numbers) when Reagan entered office was 20.5%, for Mr. Obama, 12.8%. Currently under President Obama, inflation is 2.7% and unemployment is at 9.2% and climbing with many economists believing it’s really 16% giving Obama a real misery index of 18.7%. Even the liberal Washington Post suggests that President Obama has had enough time to jump start the economy:
The economy rebounded significantly during Reagan’s third and fourth years in office. The unemployment rate declined, although not spectacularly. It was still at 8.3 percent in December 1983 and at 7.5 percent in August 1984 as the general election campaign was entering its final months.
More important, however, was the rise in gross domestic product, which experts say is a far more reliable political indicator. The U.S. economy experienced a growth surge in 1983 and 1984 that helped set the stage for Reagan’s gauzy “Morning in America” ads and prepared the ground for his huge reelection victory.
A June Weekly Standard piece tells us just how bad the economy has performed under this president:
The Obama administration’s own Bureau of Economic Analysis, for the nine economic quarters that Obama has been in office (including the first quarter of 2009, during which President Bush held office for 19 of the 90 days), real annual growth in GDP has been just 1.5 percent. That’s less than half the annual GDP growth during the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s. Even more striking is that the rate of growth under Obama has been only slightly higher than during the 1930s — which, of course, was the decade of the Great Depression. In the 1930s, real annual GDP growth was 1.3 percent — just 0.2 percent,less than under Obama. Such strikingly low growth has been in spite of (or perhaps partly because of) Obama’s $787 billion economic “stimulus.”
Numbers out from the Commerce Department today show that growth in the gross domestic product — a measure of all goods and services produced within U.S. borders – rose at a 1.3 percent annual rate – less than the 1.5% average of his presidency. And to add insult to injury, first-quarter output was revised downward to a 0.4 percent pace from a 1.9 percent increase. With this bad of an economic performance, no president can expect to keep high approval ratings, even among his most loyal supporters, but Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan gives us some insight into why President Obama’s liberal base may be defecting from him in droves:
“Nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard…He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support.”
One of my many criticisms of this president was his seemingly apparent lack of leadership skills. I have always had the impression that Mr. Obama enjoyed the trappings of the presidency, but when it came to actually leading and being engaged in the process of leading, he just wasn’t interested or able. It could be that he simply is not a leader. Remember, he’s never held a private sector job and he rose to prominence by working for the disgraced and now defunct ACORN organization. Noonan in her brilliance sums it up this way:
He’s not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he’s not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.”
Hopefully by November 2012, a majority of the nation we’ll see this as well.