Today, the Conference Board reported that the consumer confidence index rose 5 points in the past month, from 51.9 to 56.9. Like most good news for America, this represents a tactical hurdle for the Obama campaign. Barack Obama is the guy who says Americans have to choose between medicine for their kids and gas for their cars. He peddles a message of abject national despair from which only he can deliver us. What use does he have for consumer confidence? A boost to American morale throws the Obama campaign into an identity crisis. What good is a messiah without a plague?
It’s no coincidence that Obama’s lead has evaporated as George W. Bush’s approval ratings have risen and as good news from Iraq has become too ubiquitous to ignore; it’s no coincidence that John McCain has drawn still closer to Obama over the past couple of months–as that’s how long consumer confidence has been on the rise. And it’s no coincidence that Democrat observer James Carville found Obama’s dustbowl apocalypse message disturbingly absent from last night’s proceedings:
You haven’t heard about Iraq or John McCain or George W. Bush – I haven’t heard any of this. We are a country that is in a borderline recession, we are an 80 percent wrong-track country. Health care, energy – I haven’t heard anything about gas prices,” Carville also says. “Maybe we are going to look better Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But right now, we’re playing hide the message.
Apparently Carville hasn’t heard anything about gas prices: they’re lower. The Dems aren’t playing “hide the message,” they’re playing “find the message.” Having lambasted Bush as a cartoon villain, they have nowhere to go if we’re winning a war, trying diplomacy with Iran, enjoying a dip in gas prices, doing better economically, experiencing a stabilization in the housing market, and fielding the world’s requests for protection. Obama sells despair. And he’s in trouble because that market is in a downturn.