The economy is going gangbusters but Americans are not psyched about it like they should be because President Obama isn't doing a great sales job. That and Republican businessmen are sitting around in their boardrooms conspiring how they can "talk down" the economy and make us all think it sucks.
That, in a nutshell, is how Hardball host Chris Matthews explained away President Obama's poor approval on the economy with the public on his July 7 program. After hailing the sunny optimism of Democratic presidents past like FDR and JFK and noting that Republican President Ronald Reagan evinced the same optimism with his 1984 reelection campaign's "Morning in America" TV spots, Matthews asked guest and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) [listen to MP3 audio here; video follows page break]:
...[W]hy doesn't the president even run ads like this? Why don't they sell the fact that, look, the unemployment rate is down. But most importantly, the stock market, if you got a 401(k), it's almost tripled. If Dubya had done it, little Dubya had done it, he'd be jumping off the ceiling. The Republicans would be going crazy, it'd be Morning in America. It's heaven on earth.
Just the same exact numbers, and the Democrats go "Oh, I guess it's better for some people, but I don't want to brag, it might be untoward."
They've got to get off of this.
The people who are at the bottom are not happier because the president is more miserable. It doesn't work that way. You gotta be Hubert Humphrey, you've got to be FDR, you've got to be Jack Kennedy, you've got to sell it, sell it, sell it. 'Cause then it makes the Republicans out of tune with the public.
Instead, the Republicans sell bad news all the time in the boardroom and they talk down consumer confidence, talk down investor confidence, and it works politically, 'cause even though they don't have a candidate yet, they think they can get the White House back!
Moments earlier, Matthews criticized President Obama for not being a confident, assertive salesman of his economic management before offering his somewhat conspiratorial view of Republican businessmen sit around trash-talking the economy to justify "their chicken behavior in terms of investment" (emphasis mine):
This president, [former] Governor [Ed Rendell], didn't run on the platform nor the portrait of nope. He ran on the portrait of hope. That was what he was for. And for some reason, he's very good at the nope. He'll tell you what isn't getting done, he'll tell you what he's not getting done with the Republicans. He'll complain.
And yet I don't see him bringing together the common-sense attitude which is, you want something to work, you sell it. You sell every bit of it and then hope it gets better. You tell the Republicans we're creating real jobs. Let's create some higher jobs. Let's get the highway bill signed. Let's get going with infrastructure. We are on the road. I
I think Republican business guys get together and talk down the economy among each other so they can justify their chicken behavior in terms of investment. Your thoughts?
Of course, curiously -- or come to think of it, perhaps not-so-curiously -- missing from that spiel, and the entirety of the segment, was any mention of the shovel-ready, privately-financed Keystone XL pipeline, which is awaiting approval from the Obama administration, which has this pesky habit of kicking the can down the road on the decision until after an election cycle.