Some of us remember back this far: It's 32 years ago, I'm way too young to vote, and there's a debate on TV between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. All I care about at the time is that this means I can't watch The Dukes of Hazzard or Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century. Darned politicians!
It was only later, I'll admit, when I learned that this was the golden moment where Reagan asked his audience, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
This question has since been referred to as "The Reagan Question," and it has been strongly used by every winning candidate for president since. The only recent president who didn't use it was George W. Bush, and neither of his electoral victories were anything other than squeakers. Also, the economy was not as prominent an issue in both those elections. And its fair to say that the candidate who relies on that question is a sure-fire winner. No presidential candidate has dared to utter it if it will work against him.
It was perhaps the most amazing moment of the Republican National Convention. Certainly it was the most amazing moment of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. I daresay it even trumped Clint Eastwood's croaking and stammering attempt at stand-up comedy.
It was the moment where he dared invoke The Reagan Question.
After trumpeting his own success as a businessman, and insisting that this is the most important qualification for President, the then went on to say, "That's why every president since the Great Depression who
came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction, 'You're are better off than you were four years ago.' Except Jimmy Carter."
Here, the audience laughs at the dig on Carter. Then he adds:
"And except this President."
Now, here is where the extraordinary thing happens! If you were watching on TV instead of just listening to the audio, you saw the camera pan to the audience starting to get to its feet for a standing ovation...
But they stopped!
Oh, you heard rousing applause! That was just part of the natural cadence of Mitt's speech. But it was as if the audience had been socked to the gut! They saw what you and I see. In fact, what we all see and already know. You don't need me to say it, but I'll say it anyway:
The honest answer to The Reagan Question, is YES! We ARE better off now than we were four years ago!
Okay, maybe not by a lot more, but we definitely are! And as slow as the economic recovery has been, the economy has been growing!
This, despite Republican attempts to submarine Obama's efforts at helping it at every turn, particularly since 2010.
Mitt stepped in it once. But he wasn't content to leave it there. Why his speech writers didn't catch this early on, examining draft after draft, I'll never know. But he stepped in it again! He said:
"This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years will get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office."
Golf clap! Yes, Mitt Romney's audience gave him a GOLF CLAP in response!
Like I said earlier, they saw it, and so do you! Everyone in the entire room saw the lie, and how dangerous it was. But just in case I need to draw a picture for anybody else out there, here's what's been happening with the economy since Barack Obama took office:
You've probably seen this before. In 2009, when Obama took the reigns, the economy was in bad shape. Then things began to improve. The stimulus turned things right back around. Since then, economic growth has been slow, but consistent. Jobs have been added, growth has been maintained. We ARE better off than we were four years ago!
And here's where I have to destroy a popular myth. People in Mitt Romney's camp insist that Obama has had four years. Bullshit! He's had two. Republicans have cock-blocked him permanently ever since the 2010 elections - a moment more defined by hatred and division than any other.
You know, given that fact, the consistently recovering economy is not half bad!
Look at the numbers in January of '10 and January of '11, and you can understand why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, decided to stay out of the 2012 elections! Who wants to run against a Titan like Obama with economic numbers like that! So, the only folks left parading around the Iowa Caucuses were the crazy-ass morons who actually thought they had a shot. Mitt Romney was one of them. Obama's success is the main reason Republicans are stuck with a lousy candidate like him.
The one thing that makes Mitt Romney's campaign a little realistic is that little up-tick in unemployment numbers at the end. Unemployment has risen by two tenths of a percent over the summer of 2012. And that's the only thing that is giving Romney life. That's the one thing that lets him claim the economy is lousy. The unemployment percentage is 8.3%, or half a point higher than when Obama first took office. Half a fucking point. And only one-tenth of a percentage up in June and July.
Two tenths of a percent. That's what Mitt Romney calls a horrible economy.
You see, Mitt has placed all his eggs in one basket (something no smart investor should do). And that basket has a hole in it. He's bet the entire thing on one issue: the economy. He can't win on women's issues, ethics, likability, social justice issues, civil rights, gay marriage -- in ALL of them, he's a total loss. He can't even really compete against Romneycare II, a.k.a. "Obamacare." The current state of the economy, as middle-fair as it is, is all he has left.
If that unemployment percentage number goes down between now and November, Mitt is so very fucked!
And, I predict, it will go down. How do I know? Here are my excellent reasons:
1. Back to school! Summer jobs will come to an end, and more jobs will become available to everyone else as a result. Parents who have been saving up for it all summer will be buying supplies. The economy will have an up-tick during this time.
2. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday season starts earlier and earlier. Retail stores are hiring on extra workers. Seasonal employees crop up everywhere. Halloween Express stores begin taking over every vacant storefront they can find. And all of it starts in late September and early October.
3. Summer-mix gasoline season will come to an end, bringing prices down with it. Obama will also release some of the Strategic Oil Reserves (as nearly every recent sitting president running for re-election has done), thus bringing gasoline prices down even further.
4. Hurricane relief. Hurricane Isaac, while tragic, will free up Federal Disaster Relief funds, which will act as a de facto stimulus. Construction workers, repairmen, and employment of all sort will be needed to help in the Gulf Coast.
There is one, and only one, negative factor. Obama granted what amounted to amnesty for many undocumented immigrant children living in the U.S., thus adding hundreds of thousands to the labor force at exactly a critical time. But if the unemployment numbers go down anyway, that's an even bigger victory for Obama than was previously thought! It will mean that unemployment is falling far more rapidly than was anticipated.
It's a game of inches, now. A tenth of a percent improvement in unemployment means an Obama victory. If the unemployment percentage falls below 7.7% Romney has nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Romney himself agreed with this, unwittingly. Before the above gaffs were uttered by him, he made this remark during his acceptance speech:
"Is it any wonder that a President who has attacked success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression?"
Aha! So it IS a recovery, then!
This confirms something I've been saying for a long time, now. Yes, Mitt Romney is a good businessman. But he's a lousy politician!
There were other great moments where Republicans all but admitted that they're in trouble. Mike Huckabee, for example, when he addressed his objections to Romney's Mormon beliefs, said, "I'm less concerned where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I am about where our President takes this nation!" Ah, so he IS concerned, then! Besides, what he was saying, essentially, is that he hates Obama more than he hates Mormonism. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.
Or then there was Governor Chris Christie devoting 75% of his speech towards his own campaign four years from now before finally mentioning Mitt Romney's name once. It was as though Christie knows, intrinsically, that Romney won't be there in 2016.
There was Ron Paul, who held back his endorsement of Romney. That's a lot of anger from someone supposedly on your own side!
And finally, there was Clint Eastwood, stealing all the thunder that was supposed to have been for Romney's speech with his lame attempt at making Obama into his ventriloquist dummy. Way to provide the distraction that hurricane Isaac failed to provide, you old goat! I'm SO going to see your new movie!
Two economic numbers are due before the November election. One is due in a few days. It would not surprise me if that number went either way. But the other is due in early October. That number, I predict, will show unemployment numbers down. And with those sinking numbers, will go Mitt Romney's campaign.
Along with the October surprise Mitt gift-wrapped for Obama in the form of announcing his 2011 tax-returns being released on the 15th.
Yeah, it's early, but I'll say it anyway: Nice try, Mitt. Maybe Republicans will win next time.