Former Time magazine correspondent Michael Grunwald tried going for the sunniest kind of optimism in a Politico Magazine article headlined "Everything Is Awesome! Well, not everything. But America’s looking much better than you think."
Grunwald declared that people who voted in the Republicans over economic fears were simply wrong:
Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent in his first term; it’s already down to 5.8 percent, half the struggling eurozone’s rate. Newt Gingrich promised $2.50 gas; it’s down to $2.38. Crime, abortion, teen pregnancy and oil imports are also way down, while renewable power is way up and the American auto industry is booming again. You don’t have to give credit to President Barack Obama for “America’s resurgence,” as he has started calling it, but there’s overwhelming evidence the resurgence is real. The Chicken Littles who predicted a double-dip recession, runaway interest rates, Zimbabwe-style inflation, a Greece-style debt crisis, skyrocketing energy prices, health insurance “death spirals” and other horrors have been reliably wrong.
Come to think of it, the 62 percent of Americans who described the economy as “poor” in a CNN poll a week before the Republican landslide in the midterm elections were also wrong. I guess that sounds elitist. Second-guessing the wisdom of the public may be the last bastion of political correctness; if ordinary people don’t feel good about the economy, then the recovery isn’t supposed to be real. But aren’t the 11 million Americans who have landed new jobs since 2010 and the 10 million Americans who have gotten health insurance since 2013 ordinary Americans? It’s true that wage growth has remained slow, but the overall economic trends don’t jibe with the public’s lousy mood.
And the public definitely does get stuff wrong. A Bloomberg poll this month found that 73 percent of Americans think the deficit is getting bigger, while 21 percent think it’s getting smaller and 6 percent aren’t sure. In fact, the deficit has dwindled from about $1.2 trillion in 2009 to less than $500 billion in 2014. My favorite part is the mere 6 percent who admitted ignorance; 73 percent are definitely sure the shrinking deficit is actually growing.
To be fair, Grunwald should acknowledge that the deficit skyrocketed to $1.2 trillion in 2009, almost tripling from the 2008 deficit of $458 billion. He should also acknowledge that our national media (especially network TV news) doesn't discuss deficits or the national debt very much, so they should accept a hefty share of blame for ignorance.
Actually, Grunwald can be counter-factual: he claimed Obama had a much better record on debt than Bush. While he's at it, Grunwald could acknowledge he's not a fan of the Republicans, at all. In 2009, during the "stimulus" debate, he compared them to the geese that threatened to cause a Manhattan plane crash.
He then turned into media criticism, as if the liberal media weren't pro-Obama enough:
Let’s face it: The press has a problem reporting good news. Two Americans died of Ebola and cable TV flipped out; now we’re Ebola-free and no one seems to care. The same thing happened with the flood of migrant children across the Mexican border, which was a horrific crisis until it suddenly wasn’t. Nobody’s going to win a Pulitzer Prize for recognizing that we’re smoking less, driving less, wasting less electricity and committing less crime. Police are killing fewer civilians, and fewer police are getting killed, but understandably, after the tragedies in Ferguson and Brooklyn, nobody’s thinking about that these days. The media keep us in a perpetual state of panic about spectacular threats to our safety — Ebola, sharks, terrorism — but we’re much likelier to die in a car accident. Although, it ought to be said, much less likely than we used to be; highway fatalities are down 25 percent in a decade.
The other problem in acknowledging good news, not just for the press but for the public, is that it has come to feel partisan, like an endorsement of whoever occupies the White House. Republican leaders have exacerbated this problem by describing everything Obama has done — his 2009 stimulus package, his 2010 Wall Street reforms, his 2013 tax hikes on high earners, his various anti-pollution regulations aimed at coal-fired power plants, and most of all Obamacare — as “job-killing” catastrophes that would obliterate the economy. It’s hard to point out that the economy is humming along nicely without making those doom-and-gloom predictions sound ill-advised and over-the-top. Because they were. Liberals who predicted disaster when Obama refused to nationalize the banking system during the financial crisis and when Republicans insisted on the harsh budget cuts in the 2013 “sequester” were wrong, too. Disaster hasn’t happened.
Grunwald could acknowledge he wrote an article for Time in 2013 headlined "The Sequester Is a Republican-Inflicted Wound."
The sequester is here, with an initial $85 billion worth of haphazard and economically destructive spending cuts, a Washington wound almost universally described as “self-inflicted.” Let’s be clearer: It’s Republican-inflicted. It is a direct result of the insistence by GOP leaders in the summer of 2011 that they would not raise the federal debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to dramatic spending cuts. One can argue that the growth of the debt or the size of the government justified that insistence; I’d disagree. But it’s simply a fact that every budget crisis of the last two years—the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, the failure of the “supercommittee,” the fiscal cliff, and now this—stems from Republican debt-limit brinksmanship.
This man is an Obama partisan. So his complaint that optimism sounds partisan is ruined by his own journalistic clip file.