The Question for Mr. Obama

The Economist nails it with their cover question this week:

From the text:

Three million more Americans are out of work than four years ago, and the national debt is $5 trillion bigger. Partisan gridlock is worse than ever: health-care reform, a genuinely impressive achievement, has become a prime source of rancour. Businessfolk are split over whether he dislikes capitalism or is merely indifferent to it. His global-warming efforts have evaporated. America’s standing in the Muslim world is no higher than it was under George W. Bush, Iran remains dangerous, Russia and China are still prickly despite the promised resets, and the prison in Guantánamo remains open. . .

A man who four years ago epitomised hope will arrive in Charlotte with a campaign that thus far has been about invoking fear. . .

But he needs to distinguish between a creditable desire to help the weak and a dangerous preference for the public over the private sector. The jobs that poor Americans need will be created by companies. Smothering firms in red tape is not the way to help them; Mr Obama should vow to stop adding to it, and to start cutting some of it away.

Incumbents tend to win presidential elections, but second-term presidents tend to be disappointing. Mr Obama’s first-term record suggests that, if re-elected, he could be the lamest of ducks. That’s why he needs a good answer to the big question: just what would you do with another four years?