It's the economy

Behind The News
July 16, 2008 6:39:33 PM PDT
It is, alas, issue number one. The economy is top of mind. For everyone. From every socioeconomic sector. James Carville, the mastermind behind Bill Clinton's political triumphs, dubbed it first. "It's the economy, stupid."

And it is.

He was referring to Clinton staffers and how they should remember that the economy was and is top priority for the American people, who are now clearly frightened about their futures.

The latest ABC News poll out today shows that economic pessimism is at an all-time high. 78% of Americans say the economy's getting worse - topping this past May's 77%.

Eighty-six percent say the economy's in bad shape, 77% say it's a bad time to buy things, and 48% rate their own finances negatively.

Perhaps not at all coincidentally, another new ABC News poll shows that President Bush's popularity is at another all-time low. In fact, for the third straight month, the President's job approval has hit a new bottom. It's now at 28% -- matching Jimmy Carter's low. Only Richard Nixon and Harry Truman have ever recorded lower job approval.

And Mr. Bush hasn't had a majority approval in 42 months - that, too is a Presidential record.

Here's where it applies to the current Presidential campaign, where Barack Obama is -- not surprisingly -- trying to make the case that John McCain would represent a third Bush term in the White House: Those who disapprove of Mr. Bush favor Obama by an overwhelming 68-23 percent. And doesn't that present a conundrum and a half for Sen. McCain? How closely should he ally himself with the President?

The poll also shows Obama leading McCain 50-42 percent. But November is a long ways off.

Meanwhile, the average American may be calling this a recession, but the White House is instead calling the economy sluggish, and admitting that there are risks of further slowdowns and higher inflation. Still, the President today urged Americans to "take a deep breath."

At his news conference today, Mr. Bush offered quite an assessment about the banking industry. Here's the verbatim:

"If you're a commercial bank in America and you have a deposit in a commercial bank in America, your deposit is insured by the federal government up to $100,000. And so, therefore, when you hear nervousness about your bank, you know, people start talking about how nervous they are about your bank's condition, the depositor must understand that the federal government, through the FDIC, stands behind the deposit up to $100,000. Therefore, which leads me to say, that if you're a depositor, you're in -- you're protected by the federal government. I happened to witness the bank run in Midland, Texas, one time. I'll never forget the guy standing in the bank lobby say, "Your deposits are good, and we've got you insured. You don't have to worry about it, if you've got less than $100,000 in the bank." The problem was, people didn't hear, and there's -- you know, became nervous. My hope is, is that people take a deep breath and realize that their deposits are protected by our government. So these are two different instances, mortgage markets on the one hand, banking on the other.

"QUESTION: And banking, do you think the system is in trouble?

"BUSH: I think the system basically is sound. I truly do." We'll have the latest on the economy, the campaign for President and the mortgage banking crisis, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, it looks like New York Sen. Joe Bruno, the Republican majority leader since 1995 and under investigation for his outside business activities, will resign from his Senate seat this week.

There are all sorts of questions about why he's doing it now. Perhaps we'll find out soon.

And we're at the All Star game tonight - the last such gathering at the old Yankee Stadium before it's replaced by the new facility next door.

And finally, thanks to all of you who sent in e-mails about The New Yorker Cover. Some of them are published down below.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the big baseball game. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.


Here are your letters. Thanks, as always.

This is from Abbey: "There's a difference between freedom of speech and poor taste. Whether or not one support's Obama, I think most people will agree that the cover of The New Yorker displayed an obscene lack of judgment and was in incredibly poor taste. However, in the spirit of free speech, I hope that we are not entering into a hyper-sensitive politically correct era where people become afraid to use humor when it comes to Obama (or *anyone* from a different cultural, racial, religious, or gender background) out of fear of offending anyone. While the New Yorker cartoon was an extreme example of an attempt at satire that miserably backfired, I hope that the legitimate political humor that our country is known for does not get snuffed out in the process."

Dierdre LoCascio from New Jersey wrote: "Once again, I agree with you that The New Yorker is just fanning the flames for racism and basic ignorance. Seems to me that this is a cover that should have run over a year ago, not when Barack Obama is within weeks of accepting the Democratic Party nomination. If there was any real concern over where the Obama's allegiance lies, then how in God's name (or should we say Allah's) did he get this far in the first place??? This cover is about as good for our nation as the attacks of 911 Can't the great minds over there at The New Yorker come up with a satirical cover that might actually help our nation find some sort of unity? A cover that could be powerful enough to make us really fight and win a war on terror instead of losing due to "friendly fire?"

Noreen Belton from Laurelton, NY: "I really believe that this cover only added fuel to the fire. I have Caucasian friends that live in Bangor, Pa and MT. Bethel, Pa and they are nice people but they believe Obama is a Muslim and The New Yorker only make them truly believe that he is. They go on the web site www.Theurbangrind and that site is putting hateful thoughts in people minds. I believe that these type of things only put fear in people and make them believe the trash that they print. I hope more good things about Obama can surface. Obama team have a lot to do to help people focus on the issue and dispel all the bad rumors."

Ana Cruz from Valley Stream writes: "This cover feeds into the opinions of the ignorant who still believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim, and is therefore reprehensible. The editors of The New Yorker should be ashamed of themselves!"

George Oertel writes: "We lived through "All in the Family" and before it ended, most people got it. The New Yorker must follow up with reports as stupid as the Archie Bunkerisms. It takes time to sink in."

Dana Trentacost of New Jersey: "I feel that The New Yorker went just a little too far with their cover, I know that is their thing but, I think they crossed the line, I don't happen to like Mr. Obama but, I feel that his race and who he associates himself with and so on and so forth should not be discussed, what should be discussed is the issues that are important to us now so, shame on The New Yorker for what they did!"

Elizabeth Elstak of New York City writes: "I think that it is disgraceful . As hard as Obama tries to quell these misconceptions these idiots continue to fan the flames. I do not think this was meant as satire but only another way to express racists views. The Picture is said to be called The Politics of Fear however that title is not on the cover where one can assess that's the point to be made."

Robert Edwards writes: "I understand The New Yorker's humor; the problem is that lunkheads who do not normally read that publication and who have been (wrongly) claiming Obama is a Muslim and who have been revving up terrorist fears, won't understand that that cover is about them, not Obama and his wife. The cover requires thinking on two levels and they don't have that ability. They only react to immediate stimuli. The cover was a very bad mistake; its in poor taste and it is insulting. New Yorkers, and particularly editors and writers for that publication, forget that the rest of the country doesn't "get" New Yorkers. Or The New Yorker."

And finally, this one from Lauren Eisen of Connecticut: "I can only hope The New Yorker's next cover will satirize John McCain getting out of bed with George Bush, one hand grasping his walker and the other clutching his wife's pocketbook."