Today President Bush took the phrase out of touch to whole new level today, by suggesting during his Thursday press conference that the economy isn’t heading into a recession, preferring instead to call it an economic slowdown. When asked if the bad economy will lead to the defeat of John McCain in the fall, the president said, “I’m concerned about the economy because I’m concerned about working Americans, concerned about people who want to put money on the table and save for their kids’ education. That’s why I’m concerned about the economy. I want Americans working. And there’s no question the economy has slowed down. You just cited another example of slowdown. I don’t think we’re headed to a recession, but no question we’re in a slowdown.”

Bush defended the recently passed economic stimulus package, and said that no more stimuli are forthcoming. “And that’s why we acted, and acted strongly, with over $150 billion worth of pro-growth economic incentives — mainly money going into the hands of our consumers…And so we’ll see the effects of this pro-growth package. I know there’s a lot of — here in Washington, people are trying to — stimulus package two and all that stuff. Why don’t we let stimulus package one, which seemed like a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick in?”

Bush and the Congress don’t really believe that all it is going to take to turn around the economy is a relatively paltry $152 billion? The only thing this stimulus package was designed to do is inoculate both Democrats and Republicans up for reelection against charges that they have done nothing to combat the current economic decline. President Bush is concerned about his legacy, and he doesn’t want to be remembered for doing nothing about a poor economy, as his father did before him.

 It didn’t take Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama long to reply to the Bush’s characterization of the economy. While campaigning in Austin, TX Obama said, “We are not standing on the brink of recession because of forces beyond our control. This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership in Washington — a Washington where George Bush hands out billions of tax cuts to the wealthiest few for eight long years, and John McCain promises to make those same tax cuts permanent, embracing the central principle of the Bush economic program.”

Even the president’s own appointees are talking grimly about the economy, but that hasn’t stopped Mr. Misplaced Optimism from once again ignoring reality. One of the president’s most consistent aspects of his personality for the past seven years has been his superhuman ability to ignore bad news, and keep pressing on with his warped version of reality. It is no surprise to see that a man who failed in business for all of his adult life has no idea how to interpret economic data. The bottom line is that the perception of a bad economy helps the Democratic nominee in November. Democrats have historically been viewed as better economic caretakers than Republicans.

John McCain is going to base his general election campaign on a platform of terrorism and national security. President Bush’s downplaying of the poor economy is not doing the presumptive 2008 nominee any favors. If Bush’s reply to the economic question today was an indicator of how Republicans will approach the issue in November, then it is safe to say that they are going to be in for a long, long, campaign.

Full Transcript of President Bush’s Press Conference

Obama’s comments 

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