“Jimmy Carter owned the 1980 election-year economy. George H.W. Bush owned the 1992 election-year economy. Both were one-term presidents. Happily for his opponents, Barack Obama has taken ownership of the 2011 economy, a full year and half before he has to face the voters. The Obama self-confidence is famously limitless. Still, a doubter might ask if President Obama hasn’t suffered his John McCain moment on the economy. John McCain’s presidential bid blew up for good when he announced in September 2008 that he was suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to address the national financial crisis.”

That was it for McCain. He “suspended the campaign.” Never recovered. McCain had nothing to contribute. Do you remember what happened at that meeting? (interruption) Well, I don’t know if Obama “took charge,” but it was reported that he “took charge.” The story was, “Obama took charge of the meeting.” The story was, “Bush couldn’t even stop Obama, he was such a commanding presence! Why, Obama went in there and he’s the guy that had all the answers.” That’s what was reported, and they released ubiquitous McCain sitting there seemingly not knowing where he was. That was the message conveyed in the pictures, so, “Bye-bye, McCain campaign” at that point. The White House thus, at that point, passed to Barack Obama.

“Mr. Obama’s McCain moment — raising expectations of economic seriousness and then dropping them over the cliff — was his hyperpartisan deficit speech at George Washington University in April. The day before that speech, all Washington expected Mr. Obama to make a major policy statement about the big deficit-reduction debate then unfolding. Agree or disagree, Paul Ryan’s budget released the week before was all about policy. The Republicans were actually offering to take part-ownership of the economy by spending the year in dense discussions about the deficit and spending.” That’s an interesting way for Henninger to put this. They were willing to take “part ownership of the economy,” willing to risk political capital.

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