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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Economic crisis could be Obama's ticket to two terms

By Seth Bracken

November 17, 2008 | A Republican president with record low approval ratings, skyrocketing deficit spending and a scorching economic downturn. Sound familiar? It should, we've been through it before several times. Both times there has been a regime change, a party shift. And both times it involved a Bush.

In 1992, George H.W. Bush had just finished a successful war in Iraq in a unilateral international effort, proving himself to be one of the most experienced successful foreign policy oriented presidents ever. However, the Clinton campaign launched an attack on the Bush administration claiming that he was disconnected with the American people, citing the economic downward spiral as evidence. Clinton's camp often referred to the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," and the foreign policy efforts and successes were long forgotten by the American public that was too preoccupied with their lightening wallets.

Clinton went on to win the election and in short time the economy began to turn around. The Clinton administration took the credit and used the growing income to balance the national budget for the first time in years.

Nevertheless, the very nature of the American economy leads to recessions and then to periods of growth. Clinton was elected in a perfect time to take credit of that particular economic boom and reap the benefits in the polls.

If you have been keeping up in the news about the enormous task that Barack Obama faces, you should think twice before assuming that it is a bad thing. After all, it worked out great for Clinton.

With expectations for the next four years so abysmally low, if there is any sort of rebound, Obama will be able to ride that through another election. He has to only avoid the same mistakes that Jimmy Carter did after the stock market crash and the high inflation of the 70's. Carter's policy was to raise taxes and spend it on social programs. His plan was to pull a 'tax and spend' much like the response to the Great Depression. However, the economy changed and so did public response to higher taxes and increasing governmental involvement.

This did not solve the problems and he faced the consequences when Ronald Reagan walked into the White House in 1980 on a campaign of lowering taxes and calling the federal government the problem, not the solution. He too, went on to reap the benefits of a recovering economy, claiming that his renewed tax policy had fixed the economy and went on to a land slide re-election in 1984, winning every state except two.

Obama has the opportunity do like Reagan and Clinton, allow the market to straighten itself out. If he plays his cards right, he could look to use the economic boom for a winning campaign slogan and be rewarded for being elected president in the right time. Or he could end up as Jimmy Carter did and despite his best intentions, keep the economy stagnant through high taxes and increased governmental spending.

The current economic debacle is much larger than the crashes and recessions that occurred in the '90s or the late '70s. And while the future of the economy and stock market is ambiguous at best, this also allows more room for improvement. The crisis could be turned around for a huge success for the Democratic Party and Obama.

When Obama runs for re-election in 2012 the question will be asked, are you better off now than you were four years ago? Many will be able to answer that they are in fact better off than they were before. But the real question is, how much credit should we give to Obama, and how much to the American capitalist system?


Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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