Gallup’s headline tells us : “U.S. Economic Confidence Plunges in Past Two Weeks.” According to Gallup’s measurements, economic confidence is now at “a level not seen since the recession days of March 2009.” This corresponds with the slide in right track/wrong track polling that we’ve seen.
In January 2009, a lauded orator told us, “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. . . . Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.” He sounded as if the era of excuses and procrastination was over:
What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
Well, we’ve come a long way from President Obama’s inaugural address to yesterday’s cringe-inducing remarks (“So it’s not a lack of plans or policies that’s the problem here. It’s a lack of political will in Washington. It’s the insistence on drawing lines in the sand, a refusal to put what’s best for the country ahead of self-interest or party or ideology. And that’s what we need to change.”) In two and a half years, our unemployment rate and debt have increased, but so has the “nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable.” That is now coupled with a nagging fear the president lacks the ideas and skills to lead us out of the economic doldrums.
Obama’s spinners, when not comparing him to Abraham Lincoln, imagined he was the next FDR. But while Obama mimicked FDR’s economic policies, he’s not allayed the country’s anxieties; he’s increased them. The fears are multiplying. As that iconic Time magazine cover story warned us, “Hope can fuel a campaign, but presidents are measured by results.” Actually, there’s very little of either right now.