Obama Saving ‘Better
Off’ Mantra For DNC
Although The Current Economic Situation Could Be Better, The President Will Likely Answer The ‘Better Off’ Question With A Resounding Yes
President Barack Obama at the White House. Photo by Pete D'Souza.
By John Monahan
Modern Times Magazine
Sept. 3, 2012 — That was one hell of a party the republicans held last week in Tampa.
They must have had a lot of fun everywhere else because the floor of the convention center looked like a morgue.
Sure, most of the participants are old, white and stuffy, but they are by no means as disengaged and lazy as they must have come across on television.
Or are they?
Does anyone remember another nominating convention that saw so many people sit down and rest while the “next president of the United States” accepted the nomination?
Perhaps not since 1964.
The GOP was so desperate to infuse some energy to the event that they brought out the very embodiment of vim and vigor — Clint Eastwood — who proceeded to talk to an empty chair. Sure, it might be a nice example of an actor’s training exercise, but even Eastwood couldn’t get facts straight. He said 23 million U.S. citizens were unemployed. That number, according to most economists is nearer to 12.3 million, although nearly 8.2 million more are “underemployed” meaning they want full-time work but cannot find it.
But the GOP wasn’t about to stop playing the old Hollywood right-winger card. The biggest thump Romney delivered was a line stolen from good old Ronald Reagan that many point to as the tipping point in his battle against Jimmy Carter.
By now, Reagan’s query, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” has become an oft-repeated bit of political lore. Clinton said it. Obama alluded to it vaguely in 2008. Now it's Mitt’s turn.
In an embodiment of the very essence of political expediency, Romney made the accusation that U.S. citizens are worse off than four years ago a centerpiece of his acceptance speech, alleging that the U.S. has declined, is in decline and will continue to decline unless he is elected.
Even after many who actually look at the facts scoffed at such an assertion, Romney’s base ate it up. His political spin doctors kept hammering away at the argument. It has become clear that the GOP platform this year is based upon the notion that if you repeat a lie enough, it becomes the perceived truth.
When Obama’s surrogates made the talk show rounds on Sunday they were skewered by republicans and commentators for not strenuously coming out to support the president. Everyone seemingly wanted to hear David Plouffe and David Axelrod say, “damn right we are better off now than four years ago.”
But there is no way they would do such a thing because they know what is coming this week when the democrats get together in South Carolina and they didn’t want to take the moment away from Barack Obama.
You can be assured that the president will make the case that the U.S. and all of its citizens are better off than they were four years ago — at least as how Reagan defined it.
In 1980, this is what Ronald Reagan said, “Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we're as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don't agree, if you don't think that this course that we've been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.”
The answer to those four questions — in reality, not in the skewed world of republican dogmatists — is yes.
Lets take them one at a time.
Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago?
This was a big question in 1980 because inflation was rampant during Carter’s tenure. According to the U.S. Consumer Price Index — the indicator of how easy it is for people to buy what they need — during the first three years of Carter’s tenure, the CPI increased 25.5 percent. Everything was expensive.
In contrast, inflation is not a problem in this recession. In the first three years of Obama’s tenure, the CPI has only increased 4.3 percent — and included the only time where the CPI declined in the history of the index.
The answer? Yes.
Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is at 8.3 percent as of July 2012. In February 2009 — when Obama took office — it was 8.3 percent. It then skyrocketed out of control to a high of 10 percent in October 2009, before beginning a steady decline.
It wasn't Obama’s policies that caused the rise after he took office, as the layoffs had begun early in 2008. In February 2008, unemployment sat at 4.9 percent, up 0.4 percent from the year before. But February 2008 was the last time unemployment numbers went down at all until Nov. 2009. Since that time, it has gone down by nearly 2 percentage points.
So, if asking the “better off” question about employment, the answer would have to be yes, Americans are better off because they don’t face the prospect of continually rising unemployment for the next year.
The answer? Yes.
Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we're as strong as we were four years ago?
The killing of Osama bin Laden notwithstanding, the Obama administration has worked to decrease tensions around the world while also maintaining a strong military commitment to the troops still serving in Afghanistan.
Many republican’s cringe at the thought of Obama “apologizing” to other countries for unilaterally deciding to ignore their better judgment on the invasion of Iraq or for the cavalier support of dictators in the region — but the threats are certainly less intense.
Sure, a terrorist attack can come from anywhere and at any time, but since bin Laden has been killed and the North Korean and Iranian situations are being held to a simmer, U.S. citizens in general are much safer.
There is no threat of invasion, and no aspect of our military structure is considered to be even close to behind any other nation. We have the best Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in the world that has neither been weakened in spirit or equipment.
The answer: Yes.
Unfortunately for republicans, since the answers to all of Reagan’s questions are yes, the only thing they can do is take Reagan’s advice.
“...if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for...” Reagan said in 1980.
Right you are, Ronnie. Right you are.
Voting for Obama is the obvious choice.
John Monahan is a freelance writer living in Connecticut.
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