For some time now Jim Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute has been comparing President Obama’s “recovery” with that of other presidents. Liberal economists have pushed back, trying to claim this specific type of recession (financial meltdown) is especially prolonged. But putting the word play aside, Pethokoukis has noted with some handy charts that the “recovery” under Obama has been the worst going back to the mid-19th century.

Pethokoukis has an odd ally, the former Obama car czar Steve Rattner. It is not every day that the Romney camp sends out clips from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” or quotes Obama advisers, but this segment is deadly:

As the MSNBC panel elucidated, you’d have to back to the 1930s to find a worst period of economic growth. Moreover, we are doing worse in October 2012 than we were in December 2010 or March 2012. There is something very wrong.

Obama’s serial attacks on Mitt Romney’s economic plans have fallen flat in large part because the president’s own economic management is so putrid and because he lacks something that can be characterized as a meaty pro-growth, pro-jobs plan. Many voters in essence are concluding: Okay, we hear your attacks Mr. President, but you’ve got nothing. We should try this other guy.

The media dwelled for weeks on the Romney campaign’s dilemma as to whether this could be a referendum election or a choice election. Romney managed to make it a choice election. Ironically, Obama hadn’t prepared by presenting a weighty agenda of his own. Whatever the faults of Romney’s agenda, he has one. The president’s failure to disqualify his opponent, and his media allies’ hounding Romney to come up with an agenda, were the perfect storm; now Romney has an agenda many voters like, and Obama risks being blown off the stage.