Why Quantitative Easing Needs to Involve Securities Other than Government Securities
The Measure of Our Inability to Do the Right Thing

Economist's View: What's the Big Idea?

Mark Thoma appears to despair:

What's the Big Idea?: I started this blog shortly after George Bush was reelected.... [T]he biggest factor was that I felt Democrats were being misrepresented in the media. CNN in particular comes to mind. In the run-up to the election, it was the same people day after day representing Democrats in the media, and I did not feel they were doing a good job -- at all -- of representing the Party's views on economics or anything else.... It was as though the TV shows would pick the most clueless, outlandish, easiest people to dismiss whenever they interviewed Democrats or pitted Democrats against Republicans. If only people knew who we really are, I would think, and what we actually stand for, certainly they would be persuaded. I never thought it would go anywhere, but starting the blog was part of the reaction to the feeling that Democrats in the silent majority needed to start speaking up and making their voices heard.

Now I'm frustrated again.... Right now, there is no voice, at least not one I can hear. There are plenty of Democrats talking with loud voices, more than ever I'd guess, but there is no leadership.... We finally have control of the ship, and the captain is wandering aimlessly. What is Obama's vision? Where are we trying to go? What is the grander goal that is being served by the polices and strategies he is pursuing? Yes, he gives good speeches, but what is the single theme that runs through them all to coordinate and steer the party toward this larger vision?...

And Josh Marshall says that there are rumors that Bill Clinton appears to half-despair:

Bill's Frustration: A report surfaced today that Bill Clinton is frustrated as heck that the Dems can't manage to get a coherent or persuasive message together for the midterms. And he's even doing what he can to get together good talking points for candidates and stump in all the right places to help save the Democratic majorities even if the current leaders can't manage it themselves.... [A]s you've seen if you've read what I've written over the last three months, I've been distressed by the Democrats' inability or unwillingness to grasp hold of what winning political issues there are in such a rough climate.

But let's not be born yesterday. Anyone over 35 has a good adult memory of the 1994 midterm. That's when Stan Greenberg was telling congressional candidates to run away from President Clinton, just two years after Stan helped engineer his election. Clinton was considered toxic politically in broad swathes of the country... [which] look an awful lot like the swathes where President Obama is toxic today.... [F]or all his political skills President Clinton couldn't do anything the stem the tide. He was impotent, diminished, helpless, crushed and all the rest. Being president is hard. Being president two years into your first term is hard. And being at the center of the polarizing political storm -- as Obama is today and Clinton was 16 years ago -- tends to wipe the political genius and midas touch and all the other good stuff right off of you. 10% unemployment doesn't make you look that good either.

This isn't justifying any mistakes. But I'm surprised how short the memories are of many people who do this political analysis thing for a living.

But Caren Bohan says that Barack Obama does not despair:

Obama accuses Republicans of peddling "snake oil" | TPM News Pages: President Barack Obama... accused Republicans on Friday of peddling discredited "snake oil ideas" about the economy.... Obama portrayed the embattled Reid as a champion for the middle class who stays awake at night worrying about people whose houses have been foreclosed. "You know, Harry's not the flashiest guy, let's face it," Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 people in Las Vegas. "Harry kind of speaks in a very soft voice. He doesn't move real quick. He doesn't get up and make big stem-winding speeches. But Harry Reid does the right thing."...

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer is facing a tough challenge from Republican Carly Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.... At a rally at the University of Southern California that drew more 37,000 people, Obama portrayed the election as a "choice between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that will get us out." He acknowledged that economic woes made for a tough election climate for Democrats, but said Republicans seeking control of Congress did not have the answer. "They are clinging to the same worn-out, tired snake oil ideas that they were peddling before," Obama said, referring to Bush-era policies he blames for putting the economy in a deep hole that it is still struggling to climb out of...