Democrats stopped trying to compare President Obama’s affability and presidential qualities to President Reagan because his economic recovery record suggest he may end up more like President Carter.
It was not that long ago that both major magazines and news channels alike took a moment to compare President Obama to President Reagan in an effort to determine the former’s record on this dismal economic recovery. One can imagine this was welcome in the circles of support for the 44th president, being compared to Mr. Reagan.
Like Reagan, this president came into office during one of the most troubling economic times over the past 80 years. As well, this president came into office under the shadow of several menacing overseas threats. (e.g., Reagan was dealing with the aftermath of the Iran Hostage Crisis and the full throttle of the Cold War; Obama with the aftermath of 9/11).
Like Illinois-born Reagan and Republicans decades ago, Democrats hoped that the affable former Illinois senator would bolster their national brand after years of Republican domination of the White House since 1980 through following Reagan’s template. They hoped that after 4 years, the likability of this president, coupled with strong showings overseas and a rebounding economy, would boost the DNC and its control on Washington from 2009 onward for a generation.
For Mr. Reagan, 4 years in the White House surely began “Morning in America” as his re-election bid was bolstered by military success (Grenada in 1983) and a reviving recovery. For Mr. Obama, the re-election efforts may lead to a sunset on his presidency should his domestic record continue to fail to live up to this predecessor’s.
Regardless of the well-deserved credit that the current Commander-in-Chief garners at this 1-year anniversary of the Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan, presidential success for Mr. Obama – much like it was for the last “Great Communicator” in the Oval Office – will only be measured above the bar if America is both safer from overseas attacks and more prosperous here at home.
The presidential image of Mr. Obama in Afghanistan Tuesday illustrated his strongest points concerning the wind-down of the Iraq War and the bin Laden raid of May 1, 2011. These factors were strong enough to continue the Reagan-80’s comparisons that prompt Democrats to note why this president deserves 4 more years.
However, where comparisons to Reagan (and other recent Republican presidents) concerning foreign affairs could actually help the case for re-election for President Obama, continued woeful comparisons to previous recoveries are not doing this president any favors.
With the continued depressing figures highlighting a weakened post-Great Recession America, (a recession that many everyday Americans do not believe has yet ended, by the way), it is no surprise that the comparisons between the 80s the “Great Communicator” and how this era is shaping up under the current version have ceased.
The recent announcement of the woeful 2.2% GDP growth over the first quarter of 2012 is nothing to be thankful for, despite the positive spin the Obama Administration might try to put on this or the contrast of the issues hampering places such as Spain currently. These disappointing results come years after the stimulus package and other Obama-led policies were put into place with less-than-expected results.
The monthly “Cringe Friday” that the nation endures every first Friday of the month when unemployment numbers are released dampens any shine that this president’s personal joviality and surprising foreign affairs records could maintain in this election year. Whereas the dual successes abroad and at home were enough to propel Mr. Reagan to a landslide romp over Walter Mondale, President Obama and his supporters will have a hard time convincing America that he is the man for the job over these next 4 years as long as weak numbers continue.
The comparisons to the Reagan Recovery has all but ceased from the Democrats as these dampening numbers continue to trickle in. In stark contrast to GDP growth under President Obama’s tenure, the Reagan Recovery posted GDP growth that tripled the current rate at this point of Reagan’s first term. Reagan’s ability to bring congressional compromise during both geopolitical and domestic crises resulted in a significant downward shift in unemployment rates while increasing workforce participation by almost 1% at this point.
One only need to look at today’s hyper-partisanship on the watch of the “post-partisan president” – after his leadership on the controversial (and possibly unconstitutional) Obamacare law, national debt increases, and rise of Tea Party opposition – to see that President Obama’s track record domestically will not likely sync with Reagan’s anytime soon, if at all.
Affable communication skills aside – as much of as some may have hoped for a mirror image of the Reagan Era by way of President Obama’s affability, a perceived weak GOP presidential field in 2012, and some noted foreign policy wins, the horrors of the economic home front will not guarantee a surge of momentum going into the fall akin to President Reagan’s reelection bid. Reagan had the Evil Empire. Obama had al-Qaeda and May Day 2011. Yet, as long as President Obama has “Cringe Friday” on a monthly basis, he will not be able to claim “Morning Again in America” – and perhaps not claim a second term, either.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 that can be found every Saturday with Democratic pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 Pacific.) He is regularly featured Wednesdays on CNN Newsroom at 12:30 PM Eastern and on CNN’s “Early Start” weekdays 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM Eastern. Hear “The McAllister Minute” on the American Urban Radio Network each week and catch the radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” live on LMGILIVE.com at 11 AM Eastern weekdays and re-broadcast on Politic365.