Who ever thought the saying, “It’s the economy stupid,” from James Carville in 1992 would become a staple in presidential elections 20 years later?
That expression made its way into the campaign in 2008, and according to Carville, it could be the theme of the 2012 campaign as well as President Barack Obama seeks reelection. In an appearance on Monday’s “Imus in the Morning” on the Fox Business Network, the former Clinton adviser said that, based on the May jobs number, if the unemployment picture doesn’t improve, 2012 could be rough for the president.
“[L]ook, I don’t think anybody — if 54,000 new jobs is the new standard, it’s going to be a very, very rough 2012 for President Obama,” Carville said. “But the three-month average was 160,000. If that is the case, then he will do OK. I can’t tell you what will happen. But yes, if this, if this last jobs number is an indication of future job numbers, it’s going to be very, very rough.”
Carville cited a 2009 book by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff called “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.” According to the book, the current economic situation, as with similar crises of this magnitude, will take time to work itself out and there may be little Obama can do.
“It is going to be very difficult,” Carville said. “But the country, if that is what we are doing, this is gruesome on people. This unemployment rate for this long is a humanitarian crisis of the first magnitude. This financial crisis, people have studied this by the way, they know that the things take this long to work their way through. The aftermath of these things — kind of an academic book that is dry entitled ‘This Time is Different.’ What it concluded is that it is not different this time. They studied it, the aftermath of the financial crisis. What we are going through is imminently predictable. But this is a terrible thing that has happened to people’s lives. I think the president at one level understands that, you know. But he is limited in what he can do. So we’ll just have to see. But it’s going to be hard. If 54,000 jobs is the new norm — this is going to be very, very tough. Some people say it just might be one more thing. We don’t know.”
But Carville said the consequences aren’t limited to politics alone. He warned of heightened risk of civil unrest with the bleak economic picture.
“You know, look — this is a humanitarian — you know, you’re smart enough to see this,” Carville said. “People, you know, if it continues, we’re going to start to see civil unrest in this country. I hate to say that, but I think it’s imminently possible.”