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July 15, 2010


Brendan should be cast as Charley in "Death of a Salesman":

Nobody dast blame this man. Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that's an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you're finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.
Nobody dast blame Obama.

In his update, Brendan implicitly disagrees with "the implication . . . that the lack of popularity of [Obama's] initiatives is largely the result of a failure of salesmanship." In this, Brendan is exactly right. The principal reason for the lack of popularity of Obama's initiatives is that the public doesn't like Obama's policy choices. In other words, the dogs don't like the dog food.

No doubt the economy is important in Presidential popularity, but history shows that other factors can outweigh it. In 2005 - 2007 the economy was booming. Unemployment was low -- half of today's rate. The federal deficit was low -- under 2% of GDP vs. almost 11% in 2010. Yet IIRC Bush was quite unpopular.

In 1938 the depression worsened, as GNP declined 5% as compared to 1937. Unemployment worsened from 14% to 19% -- four times as high as Bush's 2005 - 2007 rate. Yet (I believe) FDR remained popular.

I think one factor may be whether the country is paying attention to the President. IMHO Bush made many excellent speeches during his 2nd term, but they didn't help him. Few were listening. Much of the country had given up on him.

My impression is that Obama is moving in the same direction. Fewer and fewer people are paying attention to his speeches. Lots of my Democratic friends and relatives still support Obama. Even so they have mostly lost interest in listenting to him.

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