At present, President Obama's argument for his reelection is that he is doing what is necessary and possible to prevent a new recession and return the nation to prosperity. The problem with that argument is that forces well outside of the President's control are likely to cause a deeper recession between now and the election, which will disprove the President's contention that he has the situation under control.
Obama might need to change his strategy completely; make an internationally televised prime time speech on the scale of the speech he made to address the Rev. Wright issue; declare that a depression is looming; and demand that the Republican Congress respond aggressively and immediately now, and not after the General Election. If Obama does make this speech and lay out a bold, credible and comprehensive defense of the nation's economy, then Obama can say, "I told you so," if the Congress fails to act. The President's leadership skills are most tested when the Congress rejects his leadership, as the House does now.
At least, by sounding the alarm, he won't be in the position that GWB and McCain were in, when they tried to soft-pedal the danger to the economy and of 9-11 occurring, and they were subsequently shown to be absolutely wrong and way off base.
Republicans are presently determined to sit on their hands and hope things get worse, both in the US and Europe, so that Obama will be blamed for the consequences of their inaction. That was the plan, but Obama must make the case that circumstances have changed, that an emergency more dire than any other is at hand, and that emergency action is needed to head off an even more cataclysmic financial precipice.
If Obama gets blamed for what happens when the US fails to respond to impending doom, then Obama will be punished for that. He will be punished for trying to present a bright picture when the skies above were clearly becoming darker and storm clouds were near. If he can't find a way to shift or share the blame for what is almost inevitably coming, then he's gonna have a hard row to hoe.
It's time for President Obama to give a big, well thought-out speech on the economy, of the importance of the speech that he gave on Rev. Wright, and tell America that the country is heading down the drain unless there is Congressional action for more unemployment benefits, more support for retaining teachers', cops' and firefighters' jobs, and for putting more money into the economy through relief for working people.
If the President succeeds in winning more help for those who are struggling, then he will be rewarded for that in November, at least marginally. But, if he pretends nothing is seriously wrong and is subsequently proved to have been in error, then he will go the way of John McCain.
Obama made the historic Rev. Wright speech to save his hopes for the presidency and to reunite the nation behind common goals. Now, he needs to make an equally historic speech to unite the nation behind a plan to save the US economy, which is the only way he can save his hopes for reelection. He might not convince the Republicans to come to the table of national reconciliation in a time of economic peril, but he needs to show that he invited them there in the most high-profile and earnest way possible, while laying out the dangers we face, while demanding national and Congressional action sufficient to meet the peril head on.
Half of Obama's political problem is that the economy is souring. The other half is that he doesn't seem to know what to do about it, while his opponent claims to have a viable prescription. President Obama must claim the urgent high ground based on a clearly presented vision. He must present an emergency plan to Congress and the nation which can give Americans hope again, in spite of the challenges and perils we face in the days and weeks to come. Everyone who stands in his way and opposes urgent action will share the blame for the consequences.