On Economy, Obama Walks a Fine Line
By Ben Pershing
President Obama said Thursday that he saw "good news" in the housing market. And why shouldn't he? Housing starts went up in February, with new stats due next week. Wells Fargo is making money hand over fist, giving hope that the financial sector is turning around. Stocks have risen more than 20 percent in a month.
But, as is always the case when you're in the White House, the picture isn't quite so simple. Because this is where it gets tricky for a president who is trying to sound optimistic without being out of touch. Americans do believe that the economy is getting better, but they also know that the employment outlook is rough. They're still worried about losing their jobs or their homes. They may well still have foreclosed homes on their block and closed stores in their neighborhood.
Obama surely remembers John McCain's much-derided comment last September that the economy's fundamentals were "strong" -- Obama's campaign tore McCain apart for it -- even though the Republican acknowledged "very, very difficult times." George H.W. Bush was pilloried in his 1992 campaign for suggesting the economy was turning around when much of the public believed it wasn't. The perception took hold that the elder Bush was "out of touch," particularly after the much-publicized but probably false grocery scanner incident.
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