The Washington Post hosts a forum on what Democrats can do about the bad economic news. Matthew Dowd gets points for realism:
With the 60-day sprint to Election Day fast approaching, perceptions of the economy are basically locked in. It is bad. And since Democrats hold all levers of power in Washington, they own this dismal situation. Democrats should say an early goodbye to some of their colleagues — and begin praying that the economy recovers in 2011, or they may be seeing a one-term president.
Donna Brazile decides it’s her job to prevent panic in the Democratic ranks:
Where the economy is in August is no guarantee of where the economy will be in November. So this spate of bad economic news isn’t as damning for Democrats as many naysayers would like to predict. Democrats have plenty of time to get the ball turned around and rolling in the right direction before voters head to the polls. It is less important where the economy is than where it’s heading, so if Democrats can sow seeds of economic optimism over the next two months, they may reap rewards come November.
No, I don’t think even she believes that. (Some of what she writes is plain silly: “Democrats should remind voters that the economic benefits of health-care reform will kick in soon, eliminating or reducing the cause of untold numbers of bankruptcies and foreclosures.” I’m thinking that’s not going to be too successful, especially since Democratic candidates are afraid to bring up ObamaCare.)
The diverse group of participants nevertheless show remarkable agreement in their assessments. The economy is in bad shape (no summer of recovery, dear Democrats), the Democrats are going to get blamed for it, and there are big losses ahead for the party controlling all the levers of power. Only Robert Shrum plays the Paul Krugman card (the stimulus was too small!) and urges Democrats to engage in good old fashioned class warfare. He, however, also seems rather half-hearted. (You can tell because he waxes lyrical about Ronald Reagan.)
We are in the home stretch leading up to the election. Individual races may be determined, as they always are, by the performance of specific candidates. But the trajectory of the election is pretty much in place. And both sides know it.