Obama speaks on the economy and no one cares
Even liberals are tuning the president out when he talks about his grand ideas for stimulating the economy.
Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: "GOP is right about Obama's Econoimic speech." WaPo's Dana Milbank: "A warmed over jobs message." Chris Cillizza: "Meet President Obama's new economic message. Same as his old economic message."
The fact is, there was nothing new in this, the 19th "pivot" Obama has made to the economy. Everybody knows it, and that's why nobody paid much attention to it.
"I don't normally do this," President Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote in the subject line of an e-mail blast to reporters Sunday night.
This was tantalizing. What would this top White House official be doing? Singing karaoke on the North Lawn? Getting a "POTUS" tattoo on his arm?
Reality was rather more prosaic. Pfeiffer was announcing the rollout of a series of economic speeches Obama would begin on Wednesday -- roughly the 10th time the White House has made such a pivot to refocus on jobs and growth. What would set this one apart is that Obama would be reprising a speech he made eight years ago, when he first became a senator; Pfeiffer included a link to clips from that speech, set in part to mood music from the Canadian electronica group Kidstreet, the same music used in an Apple ad last year.
But even a reincarnated Steve Jobs would have trouble marketing this turkey: How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005? He's even giving the speech from the same place, Galesburg, Ill.
White House officials say this will show Obama's consistency. "We plead guilty to the charge that there is a thematic continuity that exists between the speech the president will give in Galesburg, at Knox College on Wednesday, and his speech in Osawatomie [Kansas, in 2011] and his speech back at Knox College in 2005," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Yes, but this also risks sending the signal that, just six months into his second term, Obama is fresh out of ideas. There's little hope of getting Congress to act on major initiatives and little appetite in the White House to fight for bold new legislation that is likely to fail. And so the president, it seems, is going into reruns.
Failed policies has been the hallmark of President Obama's efforts at getting the economy started again. In some ways, things are a little better - housing is coming back (and taking its own sweet time doing it), construction is up, and growth is slow but steady.
But all the president can do is offer warmed over ideas that haven't worked the first time he tried them. He is at a loss about what to do.