Will President Obama say: Read my lips – No new jobs?

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., September 1, 2011 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt was challenged by The Great Depression and a little thing called World War II.  In 1945, his Administration suffered the ignominy of a month with zero job growth.  Unfortunately for him, President George W. Bush had yet to be born.  Today, for the first time since that difficult time, the Obama Administration can claim the same crowning achievement:  no net job growth.

Three years ago, we began to experience an economic downturn that evolved into a full-blown recession.  Senators Obama and McCain were vying for the Office of President of the United States.

Senator McCain was tied to the Bush Administration and mocked with the chant of “Senator McCain … More of the Same.”  Senator Obama was distinguished by the can-do attitude of “Yes We Can” and the offer of “Change We Can Believe In.”  On the basis of hope, Senator Obama was elected President of the United States.

Neither candidate entered into the general election without knowledge of the emerging economic crisis.  While in the Senate, both had voted on issues that affected and, in some cases, contributed to it.

Of course, it was politically expedient for the winner to blame one individual for the entire meltdown.  Forget Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; forget Acorn’s bank protests; forget Wall Street’s insatiable greed … as President Nixon poignantly learned:  when you’re at the top of the political world, they will always have you to “kick around.”

Now, we come to President Obama in his desperate attempt to remain relevant as a leader.  He has had three years to address the United States’ economic woes.  He has had three years to protect its credit rating.  He has had three years to provide the leadership that would rebuild our Nation’s confidence and reestablish its fiscal stability.  He has had three years to deliver speeches that promised a solution.

And today … for the first time since 1945 … we have experienced a month during which we achieved ZERO net job growth.

The President’s challenge resides in the fact that most people realize that the economy over which he presides is now his economy.  While some individuals will cling to the mantra that it’s President Bush’s fault, that excuse is beginning to wear thin on those of us who must live in the present.

Of course, the new scapegoat is Congress.  Well, not all of Congress (“wink, wink”) … just the part of Congress that hasn’t agreed with the President’s heretofore undocumented plan for recovery.  Some things you just have to take on faith … unless we’re talking about religion.  Then, you need proof!

Luckily, the economic dilemma will be resolved no later than Thursday when the President delivers his “jobs plan” to a Joint Session of Congress.  It will undoubtedly be filled with detailed action items that can be implemented immediately and others that will contribute to continuous improvement over time.

It should be good!  It’s been three years in the making.

Unlike other speeches that may have reflected nothing more than the input of pollsters, political strategists, and the staff of writers that support President Obama, this one will almost certainly be stamped with the President’s personal imprimatur.  Who can doubt the amount of time he must have spent refining the strategies that he will be delivering during his nationally televised speech?  In between his bus tour, golf games, and the quality time he was spending with his family in Martha’s Vineyard, he was indubitably immersed in reviewing alternatives, testing assumptions, and selecting a final course of action.

Putting aside the political games associated with jockeying for primetime exposure (which resembled what you might expect from an impassioned race for Student Council President in junior high), those of us who are not watching the NFL’s pre-game show on September 8th should be treated to the following:

  • The President will connect with “the People” by demonstrating his recognition of the hardships they face (the plight of the “middle class” will be duly noted);
  • The President will tell us that “we have been making progress” to correct the problem “that we inherited” … but “not as fast as we would like;”
  • The President will call for a “balanced approach;”
  • The President will call for an elimination of “wasteful spending;”
  • The President will call for an increase of revenue in the form of “eliminating loopholes for private jet owners and oil companies” and increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” so that they’ll “pay their fair share;”
  • The President will put the burden squarely on Congress and indirectly suggest that its failure to pass any associated legislation will be tantamount to treason (the phrase “It’s time for certain people to put country over Party” will almost certainly be used); and, if he’s not careful,
  • The President might even allude to a few actionable ideas.

In response:

  • The Republican guard (no reference to Saddam Hussein intended) will undoubtedly react negatively and reject anything that doesn’t relate to cutting expenses;
  • Governor Rick Perry will give dozens of interviews reminding everyone of how he created hundreds of thousands of low-paying jobs in a State that doesn’t have any income tax;
  • Representative Michelle Bachmann will wave her hand frantically trying to get someone to interview her (we can only hope that God will assist her in that regard);
  • Former Governor Mitt Romney will talk about the thousands of jobs he personally created while simultaneously calling for the repeal of Obamacare;
  • Representative Ron Paul will look a bit disheveled and appear to be frustrated;
  • Former Speaker, Newt Gingrich will be shopping with his wife and unavailable for comment; and
  • Former Governor Palin will ask if anyone knows where she can get a big bus just like the President’s.

In the meantime, we will continue to experience unemployment in excess of 9 percent while pundits debate whether we are entering into a double-dip recession.  Quite frankly, other than from a definitional perspective, who cares?  To the 14+ million people who are unemployed and the additional 5-to-10 million people who have given up looking for a job and are no longer “counted,” it doesn’t matter how you brand our current situation.

Unfortunately, for the politicians, it’s all about branding … personal branding.  Armed with inflammatory rhetoric or positioning themselves as arrogantly above the fray (i.e., as being the only adult in the room), our traditional politicians share a common denominator:  they generally do not offer any definitive solutions.  If they did, their solutions would be subject to public scrutiny and would likely fall short.

That is why we rarely hear traditional politicians discuss anything with specificity.  It’s just too threatening to their campaigns.  You see, they could actually be held accountable.

As for Thursday night, you’re probably better off watching the game.  (Rumor has it that Tea Party members will invariably favor the Saints.)

The real news is that the Packers and Saints will actually have game plans.  They will call plays and try to execute them with precision.  The players will cooperate with their teammates in an effort to achieve a positive outcome.  Fans will actually pay attention to what is happening, and at the end of the game, they will know who won and have every statistic known to mankind to evaluate the reason for the outcome.  It’s just too bad that we can’t say the same for our “team” in Washington, D.C.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.