Where Are You On The Economic Stress Map?


The Associated Press has a national county-by-county map showing economic conditions like unemployment, home foreclosures, etc. The terrain isn’t pretty. Click here to see where you are. (Give it a sec to load.)

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes (in Slate) that for Obama, giving life support to the catatonic jobs sector may be more important than health care reform.

Meanwhile, Bill Maher  (who no one should confuse as the intellectual equal to Reich and who was reaching for effect) reflected a tone in The Huffington Post I’ve heard from a troubling number of Democrats in Congress:

“I will never stop having this doubt: that maybe if [Obama & Co.] had really charged in there riding the forceful energy of the historic election and acted like it was an emergency moment–which it was–they could have gotten some big victories right up front, and there really could have been an historic “first hundred days” for this administration and the country. Instead of what happened, which is the Obamas got a dog.”

Meanwhile, as if to respond to discontent in the Democratic wards, Treasury Secretary Geitner announced on Monday that good news on jobs is just around the corner. As NPR reported yesterday morning, for congressional Democrats standing for election next year, it had better be so or they could get clobbered in the 2010 off-year elections.

Much of Obama's problem is in reality our own. We expected too much because we don't understand our political system. (Okay, maybe Obama didn't understand it well either, and lifted expectations impossibly high!) As Anna Quindlen writes in Newsweek, this country has "transformational ambitions but is saddled with an incremental system, a nation built on revolution, then engineered [by the Founders] so the revolutionary can rarely take hold."

The real problem for Obama--and Democrats who will stand for election next year--is that Quindlen is discussing civics, which has only a tangental relationship to politics. So I'm not counting on her point being something that Maher or Arianna Huffington or other noise makers understand, however good their intentions are. Nor are American voters likely to understand, which explains why previously Obama-struck Iowans, for example, are reported to be having second thoughts about him, and in some measure why Obama had no coattails yesterday in New Jersey and Virginia.

I have noted several major Obama mistakes of both "comission" and omission. But more problematic in the long run is this: Americans are politically the most illiterate voters in the industrial world.

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