Don't say "the economy." Ask "Whose economy?"
That said, what Krugman said:
I was astonished at the flatness of the big economy speech he gave in St. Petersburg at the beginning of this month — a speech that was billed as the start of a new campaign focus on economic issues. Mr. Obama is a great orator, yet he began that speech with a litany of statistics that were probably meaningless to most listeners.
Worse yet, he seemed to go out of his way to avoid scoring political points. “Back in the 1990s,” he declared, “your incomes grew by $6,000, and over the last several years, they’ve actually fallen by nearly $1,000.” Um, not quite: Real median household income didn’t rise $6,000 during “the 1990s,” it did so during the Clinton years*, after falling under the first Bush administration. Income hasn’t fallen $1,000 in “recent years,” it’s fallen under George Bush, with all of the decline taking place before 2005.
Er, yes. Jeebus, the guy's the putative** nominee, so you'd think he'd have the grace to give credit where credit is due -- and connect with voters who believe the Clintons deserve credit. But n-o-o-o-o-o-o.
Obama surrogates have shown a similar inclination to go for the capillaries rather than the jugular. A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by two Obama advisers offered another blizzard of statistics almost burying the key point — that most Americans would pay lower taxes under the Obama tax plan than under the McCain plan.
All this makes a stark contrast with the campaign of the last Democrat to make it to the White House, who had no trouble conveying passion over matters economic.
In his speech accepting the Democratic nomination in 1992, a year in which economic conditions somewhat resembled those today, Bill Clinton denounced his opponent as someone “caught in the grip of a failed economic theory.” Where Mr. Obama spoke cryptically in St. Petersburg about a “reckless few” who “game the system, as we’ve seen in this housing crisis” [it's not a housing crisis, it's the credit crunch, and it's systemic, just ask my cab driver] — I know what he meant, I think, but how many voters got it? — Mr. Clinton declared that “those who play by the rules and keep the faith have gotten the shaft, and those who cut corners and cut deals have been rewarded.” That’s the kind of hard-hitting populism that’s been absent from the Obama campaign so far.
Of course, Mr. Obama hasn’t given his own acceptance speech yet. Al Gore found a new populist fervor in August 2000, and surged in the polls. A comparable surge by Mr. Obama would give him a landslide victory this year.
But it’s up to him. If Mr. Obama can’t find the passion on economic matters that has been lacking in his campaign so far, he may yet lose this election.
Of course, for Obama to work up any populist passion on the economy would demand that he try to win back the Clinton voters his campaign already smeared as racists and threw under the bus (after insulting the women). So that will be a problem for him.
So I doubt it will happen.
But a man can dream!
NOTE * As the Obamacans, as apparently we may now call them, are fond of telling me: "Dude, the primaries are over!" It's OK to say nice things about the Clintons now!