#620 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #45. In 2012, it's NOT "the economy, stupid"

Thursday night when we watched President Obama’s acceptance speech, a drop-in guest was a member of our family who is one of those 8% of Americans who are unemployed.
In fact, he would qualify as one of those who are regularly interviewed on the evening news, or in the political ads, about how terribly hard it is to find a job.
He wants to work, he’s been, and he’d be, a very productive and loyal worker.
It is, frankly, very, very depressing to be in his spot. He fell asleep during the Presidents address…I’m guessing that was a survival strategy; a way to escape his depression; or perhaps a response to yet another failed interview earlier in another long day.
Back in the first Bill Clinton campaign in 1992, it is said that the campaign energized when James Carville re-focused the staff by framing the issues, including the famous quote: it’s “the economy, stupid!”
In 2012, I have heard it said, often, left, right, center, that there is a magic number which will determine the outcome of the Presidential election. The number is 8% unemployment. The mantra goes: no President has been reelected if the unemployment rate is above 8%. Last time I heard the number, it’s 8.3%. “The economy, stupid”!
So, if you’re running against the incumbent President, you hammer, hammer, hammer on the fact that there are more than 8% unemployed, and that it’s the Presidents fault, pure and simple.
Good (and cruel) strategy.
But there is a crucial difference this year.
The 8% is a completely artificial construct. The number could easily be less than 8% – I’ve heard it estimated as low as 6% by now – if the Republican party had chosen a course of action to help the country recover from the awful times of 2001-2009 – a time of their making.
Of course, they didn’t, and haven’t, and won’t.
This would require acknowledging that they were somehow responsible for the mess President Obama inherited (the mess was on their watch), and, even worse (from their standpoint), helping the U.S. recover now would take away their only viable issue in this campaign.
Our chronically unemployed relative has become their hostage, pure and simple.
Success for the Republicans this year is failure of the country to break the 8% barrier.
Some months ago, I heard a popular commentator from the Left report that in his opinion President Obama would lose if the unemployment was above 8%, that magic number.
This was from the Left.
It was about that time that it occurred to me that if 8% were unemployed, that must mean that 92% of us who did need a job actually did have a livelihood. Of course, there are folks in the supposedly discouraged worker class who have stopped looking for work (but this includes people who don’t especially need a job).
By and large those who want a job are working and doing well, relatively well satisfied with their state in life. I see them every day.
The morning after I heard the 8% comment, I noticed two guys sitting in the corner at my coffee shop having an earnest conversation about a book which I think was titled “The Bible of Barbecue” or some such. They were interested in the perfect barbecue.
They, along with people like my wife and I, who are not struggling, represent America the Bountiful.
We can help those 8% who are – we can attest – really, really struggling.
Will we?

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