We need jobs, not speeches

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If there was ever a political rallying cry worth remembering, it is James Carville’s prescient mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” You could build a campaign around those four words, as Bill Clinton so aptly did in 1992 when he defeated President George H.W. Bush.

Almost three years after being elected, President Obama will deliver what may be his most important speech on job creation and the economy Thursday night. As the global economy continues to sputter and cough, you can’t help but wonder whether the initiatives he will outline couldn’t have been crafted and executed, say, six months after the president took office? Was health care more important than job creation and stabilizing the economy?

Since starting this blog in February, I have avoided delving too deeply into politics, a promise I made to myself and one I intend to keep. And today’s dispatch isn’t so much a commentary on politics as it is an observation on leadership — or the lack thereof.

From the White House to Congress to the squabbles in Europe, our collective elected leadership has failed to instill the kind of confidence that is so needed as we lurch forward with an economy in stall speed, millions of people out of work and prospects for a turnaround anytime soon becoming more and more dim.

Can’t we summon the political will and leadership to chart a bold, nonpartisan course through our current morass? Was anyone really happy with the debt ceiling debate? How many of the arguments and positions were truly heartfelt, and how many were purely political theater?

The polls tell the story. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll put Obama’s approval rating at a record low. More than 60 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the way he is handling the economy. Congress didn’t fare any better.

“Confidence is contagious. So is a lack of confidence,” NFL coach Vince Lombardi once opined.

And so is fear. We need leadership from Washington to Germany to Italy if we are to move the global economy beyond risk and fear and uncertainty.

As we enter what will be a bruising season of national politics, what people are really hungry for are jobs and leadership. Rhetoric doesn’t put food on the table, speeches don’t get our factories moving, and they don’t solve real problems.

Everything old is new again. “It’s the economy, stupid.”