Is It the Economy (Again), Stupid?

By Janine Davidson

Erin was right in her prediction that the economic crisis would squeeze out much of the foreign policy discussion in Friday night's presidential debate. And given today's events, the economy will no doubt continue to dominate campaign discussions.

But are we headed for a repeat of 1992, when Bill Clinton's motto -- "it's the economy, stupid" -- turned out to be the key to the election? When incumbent President George H.W. Bush found that the first Iraq war couldn't help him to a win?

Although the stars seem to be aligning that way, we shouldn't write off national security as a major campaign issue just yet. Sure, as a national security scholar, I'm a bit biased about the importance of these issues. But it's not 1992 all over again. And here's why.

Back then, the Gulf War was hardly considered an existential threat to the United States. The U.S. was strong and well-respected abroad, and we hadn't experienced a major terrorist attack on our soil.

Today, the threat of terrorism hangs over the American political and emotional psyche, meaning soccer moms can become "security moms" in an instant.

At the same time, the details of the economic crisis are difficult to understand, and the two presidential candidates seem to have similar positions on what to do about it.

So, while economic issues may seem all-important and all-consuming, the candidates would be wise to keep national security on the other front burner. Given the nature of the global economy and the importance of energy security, they should make the intellectual links between economic and foreign policy issues -- and, most importantly, articulate them clearly to the American people.

By Marisa Katz |  September 29, 2008; 4:56 PM ET
Previous: The Greatest Threat? | Next: Phil Carter's Status Update


Please email us to report offensive comments.

What an appalling premise is implied here:

"Back then, the Gulf War was hardly considered an existential threat to the United States."

And neither is this trumped up "War on Terror (TM)" an EXISTENTIAL threat to the United States. Existential means "pertaining to something's existence. Nineteen men with boxcutters, and sure, thousands of more militant young Islamic men - driven to give their lives against the US by our continued exploitation of Arab lands for the benefit of corporations intimately connected to our government - can certainly cause pain and death to a tiny sliver of our population.

But this garbage about an "existential threat" - stoked as it is by politicians in the war lobby here to their (mostly Republican) Useful Idiot voters - is an insult to the large majority of thinking Americans.

I realize your area of specialty is national security Ms. Katz, but kindly keep your demagoguing hyperbole to yourself. They are of no interest to the educated readership of this newspaper. Your kind has dominated its shamelessly neocon-infiltrated pages for long enough now. Perhaps some rightwing war profiteering think tank has need of your services, but the American people certainly have had enough of your ilk.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 29, 2008 6:34 PM

Please don't underestimate the sheer power of the un-informed voters!

Posted by: infoshop | September 29, 2008 7:00 PM

Ledeen and crew are diligently working on Osama's next audio tape, and I'm sure the Notional Security intelligencia will be happy to validate it for security mom consumption.

Posted by: srsf1 | September 29, 2008 7:44 PM

Keep cool guys, the point is not that there IS an existantial threat to the US, but that there is a threat that may be CONSIDERED as existantial, by whoever has an impact on the election outcome. So no need to cry "Neocon" when nothing is pointing in that direction. What is said is that the Gulf War wasn't perceived as an existantial threat - of course, it was over when the presidential election happened - and that some perceived existantial threat may still convince people that it's more important to focus on security than on economics.
Now the US are at war and I agree with Ms. Davidson that it's pretty hard to tell whether the state of war or the financial crisis will rank first among voters' priorities. Of course, a candidate may take the lead on both issues, and the tension between them may then not be as important as in the 1992 election.

Posted by: GuydeLoimbard | September 30, 2008 4:04 AM

I was asked by a chaplin, in 1978, to try to decrypt the symbols of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In 1985, I finished the decryption. I sent a copy to the chaplin. He rejected it because it do not go along with anything he had been taught about the Four Horsemen.

Some of the decryptions were as follows:
--Russia would fall or change its form of government.

--The would would have an ECONOMIC WAR...there would be:
...extreme public, private, and corporate debt;
...oil would sell for over $50bbl and gas would go over $5gal;
...diseases in the beef, pork, and poultry industries;
...religious reawakenings/upheavels; will become extremely expensive;
...WWWIII (eugenic war)

I was told I was an idiot for writing such a thing.

The book was titled A DRAGON THIS WAY COMES and published in Jan2006

My opinion of the bailout:
All of it is staged and is a very good show.
While is was putting the finishing touches on the book (2004) a friend (Property Appraiser) was called in to a meeting with the big bank people. The appraisers were told to hike the value of the properties or they would never get a request from them again.
My friend ask one of the bankers he knew, "What is going on?"

He was told, the orders came down from capital hill and the Fed Reserve Bank. They both agreed that this action would bankrupt the nation and the banks. He also mentioned about bankrupting the USA so a one world currency can be brought in and then they would go for the one world government. The new currency will be DIGITAL so every transaction can be monitored and/or traced. WE ARE TALKING CONTROL HERE.

So, watch for this new bill to be passed and it will give humongus powers to the banks. They will control us with credit and use that credit to keep us in debt, and they will make us a slave to pay for that debt.

If my book is correct, watch for new laws to come out of this "second time around" that will be far more draconian than the narcotics laws that were passed in the 1990s. As I see it, we are in the middle of an economic war and we are the enemy and the super-rich cabal started it.

Posted by: Omen1 | September 30, 2008 8:13 PM

"To be blunt, to fail - or to be seen to fail - in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to our credibility, both among our friends and allies and among potential adversaries."

As stated by Secretary Gates, Monday 29 September at NDU, it would appear that the economy is not in his sights. A quote like this would imply that he is laying a supporting IED for Gov Palin's use in her upcoming debate. McCain used a quote like this at his debate with Obama.

Could a Rice Mushroom Cloud quote be next? Credibility with whom?

It is the economy..even for Gates, as bad international credit may not provision the fuel for force return flights.

Palin has a disaster quote anyway..we will see if she uses it on Thursday.

Posted by: BillKeller | September 30, 2008 9:45 PM

In response to B202 - I do believe you are misinterpreting my message here. (btw: Ms. Katz on whom you issued your ad-hominem attack is not the author of these blogs, she is the editor, I am the author of this particular post and take full responsibility for the content)
My post was not meant to imply that there is or is not an existential threat, but rather to make the point, as some other readers noticed, that in an election year such issues can become highly emotional very quickly.
Thank you for the demonstration.

Posted by: janinedavidson | October 1, 2008 12:53 PM

What would be *really* interesting was to hear one of the candidates, or anyone really, talk about how the economy affects the Great War on Terror (tm). Or the other way around, even. But I guess that stringing together two parameters of national import is a bit too much to ask.

Posted by: fnord1 | October 1, 2008 1:51 PM

The current state of the economy cannot be repaired by pouring money into private sector big business. If the US Government truly wanted to make a lasting positive impact on the economy, they could do so in a relatively short period by developing a temporary grant program for Middle American individuals or families currently employed making under $500,000 annually with a debt ration equal to or above 25%.
By taking the total debt ratio and multiplying it by 10, then multiplying the result by the annual household income, the backbone of America could pay off a large portion or all of their outstanding debt. This would rescue the troubled financial sector and free up a large amount of expendable income, stimulating and strengthening the US economy for the long term. Big business would benefit, Middle America would benefit, the economic growth would provide new job opportunities for those out of work and the impact would be long term.
Funding the financial sector and big business alone would help to maintain the status quo but would not stimulate or strengthen the economy. Using 2008 tax returns to target those within the income guidelines, the IRS could design and mail a debt ratio calculation form, process applications and mail out grant checks in under 90 days. The problem would be resolved and a long-term solution to the economic crisis that has been plaguing this nation would be very well on its way to recovery.
I have to say that the lack of willingness on the part of our elected officials to come up with a plan that would benefit ALL of America, as opposed to big business, is very disheartening.

Posted by: bffy1pd | October 2, 2008 12:26 PM

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