President a little too cool
April’s unemployment numbers came out today:
29.7 million are unemployed.
Labor force participation is at its lowest since 1981, which means the actual unemployment number is much higher than 8.1%.
As has been the case for the past two years, a surge in hiring at the start of the year has slowed to a trickle. The drop in unemployment from 8.2 percent is not much of a victory for President Barack Obama, even though it’s the best jobless rate since his inauguration at the start of 2009. That’s because the decline is largely explained by people giving up on their job hunts and the participation rate dipping to 63.6 percent last month — its lowest point since December 1981.
Yet through it all, Obama remains unruffled and keeps his cool.
Contrast the stark assessment above with Obama’s rosier depiction (followed by a non-sequitur):
Speaking at a high school in Arlington, Va., Obama called the report “good news,” yet stuck to his long-time argument that more federal help is needed to fully recover from the financial meltdown that happened almost four years ago. He criticized House Republicans for not reaching an agreement with Democrats on stopping interest rates on government subsidized student loans from doubling.
There came a point during the Iraq War where President Bush’s resoluteness and steadfast leadership began to be perceived as unrealistic hope and not aligned with the facts on the ground. Only so much bad news can come into the nation’s awareness before a president publicly touting the opposite makes him look disconnected from reality. For Bush, his upbeat optimism made him look oblivious.
Obama’s M.O. is cool and confidant detachment. “Don’t worry, folks, I got this.” But you can only put forward the same promises with the same even keel so many times before people start to think you’re patronizing them. Before you go from cool to cold.
How many times have we heard this? From the same speech in Arlington, Va.:
“Next week, I’m going to urge Congress as they start getting back to work to take some actions on some common-sense ideas right now that can accelerate even more job growth,” he said. “There’s too much at stake for all of us to not be rowing in the same direction.”
PULL…I have some common-sense ideas to get Americans back to work…
PULL…I’m sending a new jobs proposal to Congress…
PULL…I’m forming a new Jobs Council to figure out ways to get America back to work…
PULL…I inherited this mess from a decade of laissez-faire every-man-for-himself policies…
In a symbolic gesture, George Bush quit golf during the Iraq and Afghan wars because he didn’t believe it was appropriate for him to be relaxing when the men and women he ordered into war were fighting and dying. Obama doesn’t have to give up golf, but when you throw expensive galas at the Whitehouse, jet your family to expensive vacation venues, and slow jam the news on late-night TV while the rest of the country is struggling through what liberal economist Paul Krugman calls a new Depression, you look less like Samuel L. Jackson and more like Emperor Nero.