Following the release of the dreadful jobs numbers, President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this morning. However, it was entirely unclear why he was there or what his plan is for digging the economy out of the deep hole in which we find ourselves.
The speech, if you can call it that, seemed to be a disconnected collage of one-liners and excuses. He started off by explaining that “the debate here in Washington has been dominated by issues of debt limit, but what matters most to Americans, and what matters most to me as President, in the wake of the worst downturn in our lifetimes, is getting our economy on a sounder footing more broadly so the American people can have the security they deserve.” Is he saying he’s working on something the public doesn’t care about? Not clear. Later he tied the two together, adopting the GOP position that the failure to address the debt in impairing growth. (“The problems in Greece and in Europe, along with uncertainty over whether the debt limit here in the United States will be raised, have also made businesses hesitant to invest more aggressively.”)
And throughout his tone alternated between dismissiveness (“We’ve always known that we’d have ups and downs on our way back from this recession”) to hectoring (“There are bills and trade agreements before Congress right now that could get all these ideas moving. All of them have bipartisan support. All of them could pass immediately. And I urge Congress not to wait”). Despite a boatload of evidence that government spending is not the way forward, he still insists that more “investment” is needed: “We’ve got to rein in our deficits and get the government to live within its means, while still making the investments that help put people to work right now and make us more competitive in the future.”
As one GOP operative remarked to me regarding the ragged performance, “They don’t know what to do.” And it shows.