That was then-Governor Bill Clinton’s constant campaign mantra, pushed by his campaign strategist James Carville, and it worked: Governor Clinton defeated the elder President Bush in November of 1992, after President Bush had a 90% job approval rating in early March of 1991.
Well, it seems as though Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) has read up on it!
Perry: Too soon to judge Obama’s handling of Hurricane Irene
posted at 3:30 pm on August 28, 2011 by Tina Korbe
Maybe it’s because the state of Texas has weathered higher category hurricanes with far less fuss than that with which the East Coast is presently handling Hurricane Irene, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry refuses to allow the abundant meteorological moments of this week overshadow the economy. Political Ticker reports:
The Texas governor appeared at a county GOP picnic in Des Moines on Saturday. During an exchange with reporters, Perry was asked if the president has been an effective leader during a week that saw two menacing natural disasters: an earthquake and currently the hurricane.
Though Perry would not cast judgment, he did cast his answer in overtly political terms.
“He has been an absolute disaster as a president from the standpoint of our economy. That’s what people are really focused on,” Perry said. “Taking a snapshot of whether or not he’s appropriately dealt with the hurricane – I don’t know yet. I’ll tell you when the hurricane’s over.”
Frankly, the news media ought to take a leaf out of Perry’s book and remember the economy even in the midst of a rocky weather week. Irene has already caused significant inconvenience to coasters (as Ed reported this morning, 3 million are without power) and, even more tragically, has resulted in at least one death, but the media devoted so much time to the earthquake and pre-storm prep (probably because most of the media is on the East Coast) that the president essentially received a free pass on the dismal economic news that also emerged this week. Weekly jobless claims rose by 5,000. Home mortgage applications dropped to a new 15-year low. The CBO’s positive predictions of deficit reduction were based on measures that will never take effect.
It’s a sensible move on Governor Perry’s part. First of all, no one could reasonably criticize President Obama’s response to the hurricane yet, since it just hit, and no one really knows what the damage has been, or if any federal response is even needed.
Now, our good friend Amanda Marcotte tried to find a political angle to all of this, praising New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mandatory evacuation order as “the correct decision,” based on her assessment that a “liberal solution, to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” controlled, and said:
It feeds the narrative Republicans are trying to shape up, that we don’t actually need government to prepare for extreme weather events like hurricanes. But I would argue Republicans got their chance to try that theory out, and Katrina demonstrated that they are completely fucking wrong. Obviously, Irene wasn’t as bad as Katrina. But the problem with Katrina was that the conservative philosophy was in play—which is to assume the best possible outcome—and the worst happened.
I was amused to note that, given that she was praising the liberal Mayor of New York, and tried to use it to criticize Republican inaction when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. That makes the rather glaring error of “forgetting” that the Mayor of New Orleans at the time was Ray Nagin, a Democrat, and the Governor of Louisiana at the time was Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat. Somehow, the fact that President Obama, who had the political sense to cut his Martha’s Vinyard vacation a day short, never did issue an evacuation order — not that it would have been the President’s place to do that — was never mentioned, yet she was trying to attack former President Bush for not doing so.
The silliness of Miss Marcotte’s response simply reaffirms the wisdom of Governor Perry’s answer: he concentrated on the political heart of the argument against re-electing President Obama, and left what will surely be a peripheral issue (if it’s an issue at all) alone. He didn’t attack President Obama’s actions or inactions on Hurricane Irene because we don’t have complete information about the situation in the first place.
Come November of 2012, most of the voters will not remember or care about what President Obama did or did not do in response to Hurricane Irene; come November of 2012, most of the voters will care about the economy. The voters will not (much) remember our involvement in Libya — which is mostly an Obama success — and our involvement in Iraq is already at a non-newsworthy level. We may or may not be on a winning path in Afghanistan by then, but even if we are on a winning path, with most American soldiers heading home by then, it won’t make one bit of difference if unemployment is 8.5% in November of 2012, which is just about where the latest Congressional Budget Office projections claim it will be. (Of course, if the war in Afghanistan is bogged down by election day, it will hurt the President’s chances of being re-elected.)
Governor Perry should take Mr Carville’s ideas to heart: don’t worry about the side issues, and don’t get bogged down in things that don’t matter or won’t matter when the voters go to the polls. It’s the economy, stupid, and the election will not be won, or lost, on anything else.