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Message: I'm Not Concerned

Gentlemen, start your downloads, as this is a gaffetastic moment for the president, sure to be rerun endlessly in GOP campaign ads between now and November of 2012:

"I'm not concerned about a double-dip recession, I'm concerned that the fact that the recovery we're on is not producing jobs as quickly as I wanted to happen. Prior to this month, we have seen three months of very robust job growth in the private sector. And, so we are very encouraged by that. This month, we still saw job growth in the private sector, but it slowed down," President Obama said at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Many voters have to be wondering when the first recession ended -- other than in Newsweek's fantasy world of course, about five minutes before the magazine, riding high on the back of the spectacular recovery last year, was sold for a buck, clearly a vastly inflated price caused by the speculative fever only a successful recovery can fuel.

But then, one reason the president isn't concerned is that he's shutting down and tuning out:

At some point during the first two years of his administration, President Obama stopped receiving the daily economic briefing that he requested when he took office.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced at his own first daily briefing reporters that Obama asked for the daily economic briefing, described then as comparable to the daily intelligence briefing the president gets every morning.

“The president asked that this be added every day to his schedule,” Gibbs said at the time. Gibbs added that Obama believed it is “important that each day he receive the most up to date information as it relates to the economy.”

But at some point, the daily economic briefings stopped showing up on Obama's daily schedule.

And as Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler,"The administration is losing the man who may be its most effective economic spokesman — not that he was actually effective, just the administration’s most effective:"

He was Obama’s top economic adviser and, among other things, the best economic voice they had for presenting the administration’s case to the public via the media. Tonight, he’s out.

Austan Goolsbee is stepping down as chairman of President Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisors, shaking up the White House economic team just as the economic recovery is sputtering.

Goolsbee, one of the White House’s primary spokesmen on the economy, will return to his position as an economics professor at the University of Chicago‘s Booth School of Business, the White House said in an announcement Monday night.

The claim is that the president wants him to stay, but university policy is forcing his hand.  Odd. Just a guess here, but if Rahm Emanuel can get around Chicago’s electoral residency requirements by claiming he was away serving his country, then Goolsbee could get a similar waiver. If he wanted.

Who wants to go down with the SS Baracktanic? Also at PJM, Richard Pollock adds, "With Austan Goolsbee's departure, the collapse of the president's economic team is nearly complete."

Richard's piece is titled, "Obama’s Economic ‘Dream Team’ Evaporates." But considering their results so far, wow, that's some "dream team."

Perhaps Richard means "dream" in the sense of living in a fantasy world. And speaking of which, as  Goolsbee heads for the liferaft, even Democrat cheerleader Robert Reich is sounding glum over the recent economic news:

Together with plummeting housing prices, falling wages for non-supervisory workers, a paltry 1.8 percent growth in the first quarter, and a precipitous drop in consumer confidence, the picture should be clear to anyone able to see clearly.

The recovery has stalled.

We’re not in a double dip yet, but the odds are increasing…

The President cannot be reelected if the economy tanks. He may not even be reelected on an anemic recovery in which unemployment remains nearly this high. But all incumbents are endangered. Republican House members from swing districts are toast if they don’t show voters they’re actively working on the twin problems of jobs and wages.

As Allahpundit responds at the above link, nice try at that last piece of spin, champ:

Really? After two years of economic misery during a period of solid Democratic rule in 2009-10, amid endless Republican talking points about the failed stimulus and “Obama’s economy,” swing voters are going to turn around during a presidential election campaign and … split their ballots to apportion blame to congressional GOP incumbents? From what I remember, that’s not how things worked out vis-a-vis the financial crisis in 2008 even though Democrats had controlled Congress for almost two years when it struck. That election was framed as a contrast between Bush’s failings and the promise of Hopenchange, and Democrats benefited across the board. This time, it’s Obama’s failings that’ll be front and center. Like it or not, as Charlie Cook points out, Reich’s party owns this issue — which of course is why they’re so eager to talk about Medicare. “Boehner deserves some blame too!” won’t save them with Obama at the top of the ballot, especially when the Senate is also controlled by Democrats. But “Paul Ryan wants to kill grandma” might.

And as far as the similarity between Obama's cool "I'm not concerned" quip and Papa Bush's similarly distanced-sounding "Message: I Care" line from the early 1990s, as Rob Long wrote last year:

When a person — especially someone as tightly wound as our president — emphatically declares something that sounds a little too specific, watch out. He’s not making a point; he’s reading the stage directions. He’s telling you what he’s afraid you think of him, and he’s often correct.

Psychiatrists love this little trick, because it makes their work so incredibly easy. You just wait for the patient to say something weird about himself, and you pounce. Voters do the same thing. When George H. W. Bush tried to show voters the scale of his caring by barking, “Message: I care!” they all suddenly saw the president of the United States stretched out on a Mies daybed, and they scribbled in their notebooks, “Patient seems concerned re: not caring impression. Patient may lack proper sympathy.”

But psychiatrists don’t fire patients — not at $300 per session. Voters, on the other hand, positively relish it.

We'll know how much they relish it next year. In the meantime, except to see the above clip get plenty of mileage between now and then. And/or for the president to deploy The Flounder Defense.

(Because it's all so...unexpectedly.)