As we noted here, Barack Obama has had to calibrate his position on the economy carefully to achieve a series of political goals. During the Presidential campaign, he said the economy was in dire straits and relentlessly ridiculed John McCain when McCain said the economy was “fundamentally sound.” Once he took office, the situation became even graver, as Obama wanted to 1) make the sure the bar was set so low that anything that happens in the next four years will be seen as an improvement, and 2) justify a series of liberal initiatives that have nothing to do with the financial crisis, e.g., socialized medicine and a tax on carbon. (“Never let a crisis go to waste!”)
But then the market went into an extended tailspin, and Obama seemed to realize–perhaps for the first time–that words can have non-electoral consequences. So he and his advisers started moderating their bleak view of the economy.
We’ve now come full circle, as this morning, Christina Romer, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, agreed with McCain that the economy is “fundamentally sound.” What is most interesting about this is that even the Associated Press couldn’t miss the irony:
The economy is fundamentally sound despite the temporary “mess” it’s in, the White House said Sunday in the kind of upbeat assessment that Barack Obama had mocked as a presidential candidate. …
During the fall campaign, Obama relentlessly criticized his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for declaring, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Obama’s team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country.
But on Sunday, that optimistic message came from economic adviser Christina Romer. When asked during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if the fundamentals of the economy were sound, she replied: “Of course they are sound.”
Do you think Obama will apologize to McCain for his conduct during the campaign? No, I don’t think so either.