The Romney campaign and some on the right are having a grand old time blasting Obama for supposedly saying late yesterday that he ”forgot” about the recession. Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul claims Obama has “now admitted that he’s forgotten about the recession.”
This is an absurd distortion. But it’s worth dwelling on, because it says an enormous amount about what this presidential camapign is all about.
Here’s Obama’s actual quote, courtesy of Buzzfeed’s video:
It was a house of cards, and it collapsed in the most destructive worst crisis that we’ve seen since the great depression. And sometimes people forget the magnitude of it , you know? And you saw some of that I think in the video that was shown. Sometimes I forget. In the last six months of 2008, while we were campaigning, nearly three million of our neighbors lost their jobs. Eight hundred thousand lost their jobs in the month that I took office. And it was tough. But the American people proved they were tougher.
The Romney campaign’s response:
It’s not surprising that a president who forgot to create jobs, forgot to cut the debt, and forgot to change Washington has now admitted that he’s forgotten about the recession. In fact, it seems that the President has forgotten that he’s been in office for the last three-and-a-half years. In November, the American people won’t forget.
What Obama actually said, of course, is that sometimes he forgets about the magnitude of the crisis that hit before he took office and continued into the early months of his term. The irony here is really rich: It’s actually the Romney campaign that is heavily invested in getting voters to forget the magnitude of the crisis Obama inherited.
The Romney statement above captures this perfectly. The claim that Obama “forgot to create jobs” is supposed to mean that a net total of zero jobs were created on Obama’s watch. This assertion rests on a metric that factors in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs that were lost while the economy was in free fall during Obama’s first few months in office, before his policies took effect, and blames Obama for those early job losses. Romney has used this metric for months. It’s central to his whole case against Obama.
Watch the Obama campaign’s latest ad, and you’ll see that the conflict of job data interpretations displayed above is what this campaign is all about. The ad — like Obama’s comments yesterday — stresses the long view, the awfulness of the meltdown, and the two dozen months of private sector job creation that followed.
Romney wants you to forget this recent history. His whole candidacy is based on an amnesia strategy: It is premised on the hope that voters either will forget about the severity and depth of the crisis Obama inherited, or won’t factor it into their decision this fall, and will instead hold Obama responsible for the sluggish pace of the recovery. And yet the Romney campaign is now accusing Obama of forgetting about the recession. Just perfect.
* GOP divided on how to move on from gay marriage: A must-read from Philip Rucker gets at the largely untold side of the gay marriage story: Republicans are divided over how aggressively to take on Obama’s announcement, which reveals again that elevating the issue could be just as risky for Romney as it is for Obama. This quote from GOP strategist Steve Schmidt is important:
“This really spotlights a fissure in the Republican Party between the southern evangelical wing of the party — where they don’t mind government intrusion into the bedroom and into individuals’ private space — and the limited-government side of the party. Looking back at this from 50 years in the future, people who are on the wrong side of this issue aren’t going to stand very well in history’s light.”
In other words, the party needs to move on already, but some elements within it just won’t let this happen. Obama and his allies, too, will actively seek to keep the focus on gay marriage, in order to force Romney to dig in harder against it, which Dems in turn will use to paint him and the party as hidebound, regressive, hostage to extremism, and lacking in forward vision.
* Time for GOP to embrace the inevitable: Michael Gerson bluntly tells conservatives that the party had better catch up with the larger cultural and generational shifts underway, or else:
The tone of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum on social issues during the recent primary season — itself a throwback to the early days of the religious right — will not be an option. Republican rhetoric will need to be oriented toward shared moral aspiration instead of harsh judgment...Even a significant portion of millennials who regard homosexuality as immoral support gay marriage out of a commitment to pluralism. And arguments in favor of pluralism have a tremendous advantage in America. In much of the country, social conservatives may need to choose a more defensible political line — the protection of individual and institutional conscience rights for those who disagree with gay marriage.
* Obama allies hit Romney on gay marriage: The above explains why the Obama-allied American Bridge is out with a new Web video featuring many of Romney’s regressive pronouncements about gay rights, from his claim that gay marriage is at odds with “3,000 years of human history,” and his insistence that we need a “federal standard” to prevent states from legalizing gay marriage if they wish.
* Conservative groups gear up on gay marriage: A number of conservative groups are also looking to keep the focus squarely on gay marriage, because they see it as a way to drive a wedge between Obama and the religious voters he made inroads among in 2008.
Dems are hoping these groups complicate Romney’s effort to avoid talking about the topic, by forcing him into a culture war footing when he wants to talk about the economy. Dems and conservative groups have a common interest in keeping the marriage equality debate alive.
* The central tension for the GOP: Ron Brownstein puts all of the above in the context of the electoral map: The GOP’s presumed advantage on the economy could be offset by the party’s trend towards monolothic conservatism, which is geographically compressing the map for Republicans and shrinking the number of routes to 270 that the bad economy should be opening up.
* Still more signs of Romney’s amnesia strategy: Post fact checker Glenn Kessler really goes to town on Romney’s claim of credit for the auto industry’s rebound, and crucially, Kessler notes that Romney keeps distorting the history of the autobailout even though his version of events has already been widely debunked.
* Obama operation getting involved in Wisconsin: An interesting tidbit from Politico about the Scott Walker recall battle: “The [Obama] campaign will be providing volunteers with information about how to get involved and how to register to vote, according to a campaign official, but isn’t planning to spend money directly on the recall.”
The question id whether Obama will campaign for Tom Barrett, which Dems are likely to push for as a way to pump up base turnout.
* And kudos to the blogger who helped spark Obama’s evolution on gay marriage: I’ve been meaning to note this for a couple days, but Americablog’s Joe Sudbay has earned himself a place in the history of this debate. He was the blogger who asked Obama about gay marriage in October of 2010, prompting this now-infamous quote: “attitudes evolve, including mine.”
Sudbay gets a prominent mention in today’s Post story about Obama’s evolution. Kudos.