It's the jobs report, stupid! The latest one, released Friday, was, at best, meh. At worst, as Mitt Romney and the Republicans would put it -- it was titanically, catastrophically, dismal. We're all gonna die!
The truth is probably somewhere in between. But the reality is, the economic recovery is barely sputtering along. And the president is the one who's going to get blamed. Which goes with the territory -- he'd be taking credit if it was working, right?
In fact, Romney -- who's got his own problems -- wasted no time in pouncing.
"The president's policies have not gotten America working again and the president is going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it," Romney said at a news conference in a New Hampshire hardware store. (Get it? Tools. America. Working. ... Clever, huh?)
Romney couldn't have hoped for more. It brought the two weeks of positive news the president had been riding to a screeching halt. And it brought the campaign's focus back on the economy, where Romney wants it.
The Mittster's message had been shoved to the side of the racetrack as the president and the Supreme Court sent immigration and health care shooting into the lead. Then, Romney started getting a very public drubbing from other conservatives. (WTF?! They're supposed to be on the same team!)
Romney, of course, had to go and hand them a gimme when he started contradicting his senior advisor - - and himself! -- over the differences between Obamacare and Romneycare.
Rupert Murdoch sent out a Twitter smackdown suggesting Mitt's muddled campaign machinery needed a total redo. Specifically, the media mogul said Romney should dump his staff and start over. Then Murdoch used one of his most powerful papers, the Wall Street Journal, to accuse Mitt of doing such a poor job of campaigning that he was "squandering a historic opportunity."
"The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that 'Obama isn't working.' Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that," the Journal complained. "What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."
Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric, joined in, saying Murdoch was dead on right.
So did Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who unleashed a column Thursday that said:
"So,speaking of losing candidates from Massachusetts: Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he¿s running?" Kristol asked. "He can 'speak about' how bad the economy is all he wants -- though Americans are already well aware of the economy's problems -- but doesn't the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank? No need for any of that, I suppose the Romney campaign believes. Just need to keep on 'speaking about the economy.'"
It was becoming a drum beat.
And then, Ta-Da! The jobs report.
Barely 80,000 new hires in the month of June, 10,000 less than the mediocre number analysts predicted. The unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent. It's even worse for Hispanics, 11 percent.
Bad stuff, Mr. President.
Being a student of history, there's no doubt Obama is well aware that no president since FDR has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2 percent.
And bringing it down that low is almost impossible between now and Election Day, barring some economic miracle.
"We're not expecting things to take off in the second half of the year," said Sara Klein, an economist at Moody's Analytics, told Reuters.
So, not good, Mr. P. And not much good on the horizon.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison