NYT's New Democrat Campaign Slogan: It’s NOT The Economy, Stupid!
In 1992, Bill Clinton successfully used a campaign strategy of continually focusing attention on the supposedly poor economy thinking that Americans typically vote with their wallets.
Of course, most intelligent people know that the recession actually ended in early 1991, and that this strategy would have failed miserably had the media not been complicit, and, instead, honestly reported economic realities.
Regardless, it appears media at this point are concerned that a strong economy and rising stock market might undermine Democrat presidential candidates in November 2008.
With that in mind, the New York Times' Tom Redburn wrote an article Saturday that diminished the importance of the economy in the upcoming elections, threw cold water on the premise that presidents have any impact on economic developments, and told readers to be much more concerned with - wait for it - the war in Iraq.
In fact, the article actually began (h/t Lynn Davidson, emphasis added throughout):
It's not the economy.
How subtle. Alas, that was only the beginning, as Redburn next pointed readers to what they really should be concerned with:
Questions of prosperity and the health of the economy, which usually are at the top of the list of voters' concerns and often play a huge role in determining the outcome - Exhibit A: Bill Clinton in 1992; Exhibit B: Ronald Reagan in 1980; Exhibit C: just about every other election in recent memory - are clearly overshadowed by the war in Iraq. The nearest parallel to today is 1968, when the Vietnam War similarly overwhelmed every other issue.
Marvelous, isn't it? Forget about past precedent, and how you're doing financially at the moment. Your only concern should be the war in Iraq.
Interesting perspective from a financial writer, wouldn't you agree?
Unfortunately, Redburn wasn't being very honest about the war in Iraq overshadowing every issue. In fact, if you clicked that link he included in "top of the list of voters' concerns," you would find a recent poll done for CBS News/New York Times.
On page thirteen, you would find the following:
17. In deciding who you would like to see elected President next year, which ONE of the following issues will be most important to you? 1. Education, or 2. Terrorism and national security, or 3. The environment and global warming, or 4. the economy and jobs, or 5. Health care, or 6. The war in Iraq, or 7. Immigration, or 8. Something else?
All Men Women
Economy 17 19 15
Iraq 19 15 24
Education 9 8 10
Environment 7 8 6
Terrorism 17 18 16
Health care 15 13 17
Immigration 9 12 7
Something else 4 5 3
DK/NA 2 2 2
As such, in a poll published by his own organization, it quite appears Americans at the moment are viewing the economy, terrorism, and health care to be almost as important to them as the war in Iraq.
I wonder how Redburn missed that.
Yet, Redburn wasn't even close to done:
Still, if the economy doesn't much matter to the voting public right now, isn't all the attention paid to it mostly hot air?
But this lack of focus on the current state of the economy could actually prove to be a good thing. That's because American presidents, for all their efforts to claim credit for a growing economy or avoid blame for a slump, don't really have much influence over such ups and downs. Almost none, in fact.
Amazing, wouldn't you agree?
First, Redburn ignored actual polling statistics to present a false assertion that the public doesn't care about the economy. Next, using that faulty premise, he stated that all the attention given to the economy by the media is a waste. Third, the false fact that people aren't focusing on the economy is good because presidents don't do much to help it anyway.
Think that would be Redburn's point if we were in a recession right now with rising unemployment and plummeting stock prices?
No, I don't either.