Obama is on the verge of repeating a big mistake that a predecessor made with disastrous results.
That predecessor was George H.W. Bush. And the mistake was that while burdened with serious unemployment problems as he faced re-election in 1992, he promised to come up with a new economic plan, not immediately, but in a few weeks. More specifically, he said in December 1991 that he would unveil his new economic blueprint in his State of the Union message in January 1992.
Sound familiar? It should. Obama, faced with more-severe economic problems than the elder Bush, now says he will outline new economic solutions in a televised speech to the nation after Labor Day, still more than two weeks away. Meanwhile, he is on vacation.
On the surface, it might appear to be a good political strategy: gear up the public for a big announcement down the road and maximize attention to it. But in practice, the strategy is fraught with dangers, as the elder Bush found to his regret.
In the period between when Bush said he would unveil a plan and the actual rollout, public expectations for a magic solution skyrocketed to heights that no plan could have reached. After all, if there was some sure-fire cure for the nation’s economic ills, wouldn’t it have been tried by then?