Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Obama Freefall

This isn't how it was supposed to be. This was supposed to be "recovery summer" and Democrats thought they would be sailing under favorable winds toward a November election safely under the mantle of President Obama's popularity. But the idolized leader has proven detached, wooden, and not terribly competent. The economy is in tatters, American soldiers are still dying in the worthless sands of barbaric lands, and the US government continues to hemmorage money. This isn't the hope and change democrats were expecting.

Predictably, the president's A team is beginning to flee, mostly back to academia, from whence many were drawn. His leading economic adviser, Christina Romer, is heading back to Harvard, where she will continue to mislead young minds. Before leaving Washington, she gave a final talk to the press at the National Press Club in Washington. Dana Milbank, a staunchly leftist journalist, covered the event and even he couldn't hide his dismay.

First, Milbank notes that the event had been scaled down, much like Democratic expectations, beforehand.

Romer's farewell luncheon had been scheduled for the club's ballroom, but attendance was light and the event was moved to a smaller room.

Given what she said, the few who came probably wish they hadn't bothered.

She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn't understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn't have much of an idea about how to fix things.

What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery: "Terrible recession. . . . Incredibly searing. . . . Dramatically below trend. . . . Suffering terribly. . . . Risk of making high unemployment permanent. . . . Economic nightmare."

Anybody want dessert?

At week's end, Romer will leave the council chairmanship after what surely has been the most dismal tenure anybody in that post has had: a loss of nearly 4 million jobs in a year and a half. That's not Romer's fault; the financial collapse occurred before she, and Obama, took office. But she was the president's top economist during a time when the administration consistently underestimated the depth of the economy's troubles - miscalculations that have caused Americans to lose faith in the president and the Democrats.

Romer had predicted that Obama's stimulus package would keep the unemployment rate at 8 percent or less; it is now 9.5 percent. One of her bosses, Vice President Biden, told Democrats in January that "you're going to see, come the spring, net increase in jobs every month." The economy lost 350,000 jobs in June and July.

So much for the theory that Harvard academics have any idea what they are talking about ... or can run an economy.