It's Still the Economy, Stupid

Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 12:06 PM

By Jon Friedman

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President Barack Obama has been talking a lot lately about Afghanistan. Maybe he is wasting his breath on this hot-button issue. Whatever his message actually may be on the subject, it might appear that he has selected the wrong issue to put in our faces.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, the economic crisis and the ongoing controversy surrounding healthcare reform led the news for the week of Dec. 7 to Dec. 13. What issue "placed?" you might ask. Afghanistan, surely? No. It was global warming.

If President Obama expected to win back the momentum he seemed to have lost in recent months, he had better pay attention to the American people already. Yes, Afghanistan is vitally important to the security of the nation. But perhaps Americans are accustomed to it being a gloomy part of our lives by now

By comparison, we never get jaded about the economy. Time magazine must agree: It just named Fed chief Ben Bernanke as its Person of the Year. Whether we are angry about the price of a gallon of unleaded at the pump or a bottle of milk at a neighborhood grocery store, we care passionately about the state of the economy.

Barack Obama was swept into office alongside the stunning collapse of Wall Street, a spiraling unemployment rate and a national malaise that would have shook even Jimmy Carter.

The president would be well served to heed the instructive words of wise James Carville from the 1992 presidential campaign. He preached to Bill Clinton, then a candidate for the White House: It's the economy, stupid. It was, too.

And you know what? It still is true today, perhaps now more than ever.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch. Click here to see his latest column.

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