Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When fate takes a hand

Jon Chait identifies an inconvenient truth: "The real risk is being an incumbent in hard economic times when the opposition party can block your plans. [President] Obama is not, of course, a pure bystander to his fate. He can help change the agenda and highlight Republicans’ lack of a short-term economic response. Polls show he has increased his standing vis-à-vis the Republican party on the question of who has a better plan to promote jobs. But he hasn’t helped his approval rating, which is the most important metric of his strength, and it’s hard to imagine what, within his control, could do so. We construct narratives assigning Obama’s success or failure to his own decisions or his own character because cold structural explanations are not simple or satisfying enough. We crave stories about presidents as masters of their fate. But the reality is far less satisfying than that."

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