President Obama’s campaign promised that he would deliver a major speech on the economy on Thursday and kick his campaign into high gear. But according to a couple of liberal journalists, he missed the mark, which doesn’t bode well for him in November.
And it happened on MSNBC, no less, with Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter and The Daily Beast’s Zachary Karabell.
Alter: I thought this, honestly, was one of the least successful speeches I’ve seen Barack Obama give in several years. It was long winded. He had a good argument to make, and at the beginning of the speech he seemed to be making it in a fairly compelling way but then he lost the thread. The speech was way too long and I think he lost his audience by the end.
MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall noted that the speech was 54 minutes long and that it was the first time that Obama has “positioned Mitt Romney and his allies in Congress, clumping them together.”
Daily Beast columnist and economist Zachary Karabell said that the President was effective in describing a position that his opponents hold that he and the Democrats feel will not work. But when he switched from offense to defense “it became unbelievably diffuse and, in some sense purely as a political phenomenon it was very ineffective in that respect because it very well characterized the opponents as ‘this is not going to work’ but it didn’t really give you the sense of what will.”
Hall didn’t like the direction the conversation was heading in and reminded Alter and Karabell that what Obama was trying to say was that Romney would implement the same policies that led us to this economic disaster in the first place.
Alter responded by saying that that is a powerful argument and that while it didn’t work in 2010, it can in 2012 if properly framed. He added that Obama needs to turn this into the “how” election: “how you create jobs, how you move this country forward,” but said that he didn’t quite nail that point in the speech.
Hall did her best to find the positives in Obama’s speech, but for the most part Alter and Karabell found it lacking overall and a bit too defensive for their liking.
Obama’s supporters in the Democratic Party, as well as in the media, have been waiting for Obama to display some of the same magic he showed in 2008. After Thursday’s speech, they’re still waiting.
The President has been wounded by criticism from his surrogates who didn’t like the campaign going off on Bain Capital and private equity in general. Now they are focusing in on one of the major hurdles Obama is facing — a lackluster economy.
While Obama searches for a winning message on the economy, he continues blaming Bush for the economic problems we are facing today while trying to avoid the real issue of why, after nearly three-and-a-half years in office, he hasn’t been able to solve those very same problems.
He also has blamed Congress, but he had both a Democrat-controlled House and Senate during the first two years of his presidency and the Democrats still control the Senate. Plus, it has been more than three years since that very same Senate has passed a budget?
Obama is trying to change the narrative, but the problem is that even his new narrative is flawed.
Tamron Hall probably thought that having a panel discussion about the President’s speech with a couple of liberal journalists was going to be a ringing endorsement of Obama. Instead, it quickly became clear that the President hasn’t quite figured out what he needs to do to win reelection in November.